The refinery, which can produce as much as 2,000t annually (more once it integrates solvent extraction and the facility's autoclave), has carried out its test work in single batches. Officials said that avenue will allow it a change to improve specifications to meet the requirements of offtake partners via process optimisation.
First Cobalt has classified the product as high purity, returning results of 99.9%.
Its next step will be recommissioning the permitted facility; the complex is currently on care and maintenance. It hopes to do that within 18-24 months.
CEO and president Trent Mell called the milestone of the sulphate's production one of its most significant accomplishments, especially when most refined cobalt for electric vehicles is currently produced in Asia.
"We are encouraged by the interest shown in this strategic asset by cobalt miners and EV companies alike, and intend to move swiftly to secure long-term feed supply and offtake contracts," Mell added, confirming it is examining financing options for the facility.
Company director and Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker commended on First Cobalt's commitment to ensuring projects maintain the highest standards of ethical mining practices and environmental protection.
"The restart of the First Cobalt refinery is an important step towards producing battery materials in America with a clean record from mine to machine," he said.
Commissioned in 1996, the Ontario refinery will, once operational, be the only North American producer of refined cobalt for the North American EV market. It has the potential to produce either a cobalt sulphate for the lithium-ion battery market or cobalt metal for the North American aerospace industry or other industrial and military applications.
Pure-play First Cobalt's main cobalt project is the Iron Creek cobalt project in Idaho, US.