The programme includes the preparation and submission of permit amendments that will grow the facility to its design rate of 25,000 tonnes annually of cobalt sulfate. It also wants to perform additional metallurgical test work to increase recoveries.
First Cobalt is planning to assess alternative approaches to managing its effluent sodium levels to reduce costs and boost the project's economics. It will extend its economics assessment from 11 years to 17 years, which parallels its phase 1 dry stack tailings design storage capacity.
"Scoping studies [are] in progress to assess three early commissioning strategies to operate as a demonstration plant and produce sample product for EV manufacturers," the company added.
It expects most of the work in the programme to be completed within 90 days.
President and chief excutive Trent Mell cited an industry study saying there are currently no plans outside of China for new cobalt refineries except for this project.
"China accounts for approximately 79% of the world's refined cobalt sulfate production, and we are seeing that many automotive companies outside of China are interested in sourcing cobalt sulfate closer to their manufacturing facilities," he said.
First Cobalt recently completed a feasibility study on the permitted refinery that revealed it to be a "viable, globally competitive player" for the electric vehicle supply chain of North America and Europe. The hydrometallurgical cobalt refinery, located north of Toronto, was first permitted in 1996 with a throughput of 12 tonnes daily.