The Vancouver, B.C. company eCobalt is working on a cobalt mine near Salmon where it expects to create dozens of jobs paying $70,000 to $80,000. In addition to the Salmon mine, eCobalt plans a plant near Blackfoot to process the cobalt ore. It had changed its plans in December to simplify the processing required and reduce its costs.
“We expect commercial production in 2020,” said Fiona Grant Leydier, vice president of investor relations for eCobalt. The company is slated to finish an optimized feasibility study and will be able to provide a more detailed timeline then, she said. ” In the meantime, eCobalt is looking at options to sell its product before the processing facility opens, she said.
Cobalt is used in batteries for devices such as electric cars. Prices for cobalt have moderated in recent months, but that is no cause for concern, said Eric Zaunscherb, managing director of research and metals & mining analyst for Canaccord Genuity Inc., a Canadian investment banking and financial services company. “Valuations for battery materials companies have collapsed through 2018 as cobalt and lithium prices have moderated and theme sentiment has waned,” he wrote in a recent note about eCobalt. “We remain constructive on electric vehicle and energy storage systems demand and believe that meaningful oversupply concerns have been overdone.”
“We are pleased that eCobalt is proceeding as planned with the construction of their mine site,” said Benjamin Davenport, executive vice president for the Idaho Mining Association, a Boise-based advocacy group for the mining industry. “In addition to providing the market with an ethical and sustainable source of cobalt, this project has potential to create many high-paying jobs and provide a significant boost to the rural economy of Salmon.”
The company participated in a business investment trip earlier this year with other Idaho mining companies, led by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, to New York and Canada.
In May, eCobalt was one of 15 national recipients of the 13th Annual Corporate Investment and Community Impact awards for having made a significant investment in the Salmon community.