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Electric Vehicles to Drive Cobalt and Lithium Markets
[February 02, 2018]

Electric Vehicles to Drive Cobalt and Lithium Markets


NEW YORK, February 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

According to data compiled by Technavio, the global lithium market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 8% until 2021. The lithium market is expected to grow due to the high demand for lithium-ion batteries, which have versatile capabilities. The demand for batteries also increases the demand for cobalt, which is another major element required. According to data compiled by Technavio, the global cobalt market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9% until 2020. The battery segment for cobalt uses approximately 42 percent of global production, while the remainder is used in industrial related segments. First Cobalt Corp. (OTC: FTSSF), Katanga Mining Limited (OTC: KATFF), Glencore Plc (OTC: GLNCY), Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC)

Although the industrial segment for cobalt still controls majority of the global market, the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) will be the market driver in the future. Many countries have begun to reduce diesel powered vehicles to provide a cleaner environment. EVs currently hold a relatively small portion of the automotive market, but shifts are expected to cause a spike in demand. Caspar Rawles, analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, explained, "I still believe the critical point [for the cobalt market] will be in 2020, when the majority of the electric vehicles are going to come to market. I don't think there are any factors that could derail the cobalt story at this point."

First Cobalt Corp. (OTCQB: FTSSF) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol 'FCC'. Yesterday the company announced, "Positive drill results from its 2017 drill program, intersecting 25 metres of fracture-controlled mineralization in the Canadian Cobalt Camp."

Highlights

  • 106.2 g/t Ag over 13.7m, including 445 g/t Ag over 3.0m, near the Keeley Shaft
  • Anomalous silver also occurs over 4.0m above the interval as well as 7.0m below, up to 11.3 g/t over 1.0m
  • Suggests metal zoning pattern of silver-rich and cobalt-rich areas of mineralization at the mine-scale to guide future drill targeting
  • Length of intercept supports bulk mining strategy of a style of mineralization that was not mined historically in the Cobalt Camp

Trent Mell, President & Chief Executive Officer, commented: "These results are very encouraging as further validation of our view that the Cobalt Camp material previously believed to be barren does in fact host disseminated material amenable to a bulk tonnage operation. We are in the early days of our drill campaign and these results demonstrate the potential for long cobalt and silver drill intercepts outside the historically mined vein systems."

Within the interval, background cobalt values of up to 0.03% Co are present but base metals are generally low. Cobalt was intersected 200m further south along the Woods Vein with grades of 0.12% Co over 5.5m as well as in veins to the west containing up to 1.15% Co and 0.55% Ni over 0.42m (see December 19, 2017 press release). This suggests a possible metal zoning pattern of cobalt-rich and silver-rich mineralization may be present. This zonation can be predicted and applied to future drill targeting.

First Cobalt commenced its maiden dill campaign in late 2017 and has received assays from approximately half of its 6,500m program. In 2018, the Company has planned a 26,500 metre program to test 13 mineralized areas throughout the Cobalt Camp with known historical production of cobalt and silver. These areas include the Kerr, Drummond, Juno, Ophir, Hamilton, Silver Banner and Silverfields mines in Cobalt North, the Caswell mine in Cobalt Central, along with the Bellellen, Keeley and Frontier mines in Cobalt South.

The 2017 drill program focused on the areas around the Keeley and Frontier mines, including the Woods and Watson veins. These two accounted for over 80% of the silver production in the southern end of the Cobalt Camp area known as Silver Centre. To date, the drilling campaign by First Cobalt has identified cobalt-silver-nickel veins that are considered to be an extension of the Woods Vein to the north and parallel structures to the Woods vein in the southern portion of the Keeley Mine (see November 2 and December 19, 2017 press releases).

The Cobalt Camp was historically the most prolific cobalt jurisdiction in Canada and home to the largest silver producers worldwide. It is estimated that this mining district produced 50 million pounds of cobalt and 600 million ounces of silver from 1904 to 1985 from 70 different mines. These historic mines focused mainly on high grade silver veins mined in narrow underground operations. Firs Cobalt's thesis for the Camp is that the application of modern exploration methods, new technology and a view of cobalt through the lens of bulk mining potential may unlock value previously overlooked.



Katanga Mining Limited (OTC: KATFF) operates a major mine complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo producing refined copper and cobalt. The Company has the potential to become Africa's largest copper producer and the world's largest cobalt producer. Recently, the company announced its 2017 fourth quarter and year end production results. On September 11, 2015, the Company announced the decision to suspend the processing of copper and cobalt during the construction of its Whole Ore Leach Project ("WOL Project"). The suspension continued through most of 2017, with copper production resuming on December 11, 2017. During Q1 2018, KTC (including KITD), and Luilu are expected to ramp-up the operations to produce copper and cobalt in accordance with the ramp-up plan; Execution of the acid plant, cobalt dryers and cobalt de-bottlenecking projects are expected to continue to ensure the completion of the planned project schedules.

Glencore Plc (OTC: GLNCY) is one of the world's largest global diversified natural resource companies and a major producer and marketer of more than 90 commodities. In 2017, the company announced it purchased from subsidiaries of Fleurette Properties Limited the Fleurette group's remaining 31% stake in Mutanda Mining Sarl and an approximate 10.25% stake in Katanga Mining Limited. Mutanda is a high grade copper and cobalt producer, with its operations located in the province of Lualaba in the DRC. As of December 2016, Mutanda production was at an annualized production rate of above 200 ktpa. of copper cathodes and 24 ktpa of cobalt in hydroxide. Katanga operates a major mine complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo producing refined copper and cobalt.


Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), headquartered in Charlotte, NC, is a global specialty chemicals company with leading positions in lithium, bromine and refining catalysts. In 2017, the company announced that it has developed an innovative technology that could enable Albemarle to sustainably increase total lithium production in Chile to as much as 125,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) annually, without the need for additional brine pumping at the Salar de Atacama. As a result of this development, Albemarle has requested that Chile's Economic Development Agency (Corfo) increase Albemarle's lithium quota. Assuming the technology proves commercially viable, Albemarle plans to build and start-up additional lithium carbonate capacity in Chile in the early 2020s, once current expansion projects are completed and producing at capacity. Projects already underway should increase Albemarle's total annual production capacity in Chile to greater than 80,000 metric tons of LCE by 2020.

FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) has served the global agricultural, industrial and consumer markets with innovative solutions, applications and quality products. On November 1, 2017, FMC acquired a significant portion of DuPont's Crop Protection business. On January 4, 2018, the company announced that it has revised its operating agreements in Argentina, allowing it to expand production and completing an important step toward the intended separation of its lithium business in 2018. FMC reconfirms that it will at least double its production in Argentina during the next several years, with total annual output expected to exceed 40,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalents (LCE).

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