First Cobalt Corp. has engaged Brown and Caldwell at the Iron Creek Project in Idaho, USA, to provide guidance on permitting and to develop an environmental baseline study strategy. This is a critical step to progressing the project forward, according to President and CEO Trent Mell. This is part of the company’s strategy to advance and de-risk its two key assets, the Iron Creek Project and First Cobalt Refinery.

Brown and Caldwell has more than 55 offices across the USA and Canada and more than 70 years of experience. Services will be provided from its Boise, Idaho, office. Water-quality data collection commenced in 2017 and is ongoing.

“On the heels of the maiden resource estimate announced in the fall, this is one of a series of technical programs initiated to help us determine the optimal mining and mineral processing design at Iron Creek,” Mell added. “Baseline environmental data is critical to advancing the timeline toward production as we work toward developing an environmentally responsible source of cobalt in North America.”

The Iron Creek Project has an inferred resource estimate of 26.9 million metric tons (mt) grading 0.11% cobalt equivalent (0.08% Co and 0.30% Cu containing 46.2 million pounds of cobalt and 176.2 million pounds of copper) under a base-case scenario pit constrained and deeper mineral resource. An alternative underground-only scenario results in 4.4 million mt grading 0.23% Co and 0.68% Cu (0.30% CoEq) using a cutoff underground grade of 0.18% CoEq and containing 22.3 million pounds of cobalt and 66.7 million pounds of copper. The inferred resource is based on drilling over a strike length of approximately 500 meters and a dip extent of more than 150 meters. Preliminary metallurgical testing concludes that simple flotation methods are applicable, yielding recoveries of 96% for cobalt and 95% for copper in rougher floatation.

Drilling continued through to the end of 2018 to extend the strike length of the mineralized zone and test down dip extensions of known cobalt-copper zones. An updated mineral resource estimate is anticipated toward the end of the first quarter of 2019.

“Metallurgical tests of cobalt hydroxide and other sources of third-party feed are ongoing and early indications are encouraging,” Mell said. “In parallel with these tests, we are actively exploring sources of non-equity capital to finance the recommissioning of the refinery, which has been on care and maintenance since 2015.”

The environmental baseline data, the updated mineral resource estimate and other technical studies will be incorporated into a preliminary economic assessment planned for the latter half of 2019.