Australian operator Jervois Global is citing ongoing low cobalt prices and inflationary impacts on construction costs in the U.S. for its decision to suspend final construction efforts at its Idaho Cobalt Operations mine in Idaho’s Salmon Challis National Forest.
CEO Bryce Crocker, who confirmed that full concentrator commissioning has also been halted at the complex, said the move was “to prudently preserve the value of ICO’s ore body” and that it will complete construction of and commission ICO when cobalt prices recover.
That, he added, “will align with cobalt refining capacity in the U.S. brought into operation by Jervois and/or third parties.”
Jervois said it expects cobalt prices will recover over the medium term, hinging on influences from the energy transition and its expectation Western cobalt purchasers will increasingly prefer to buy from sources with Western ESG credentials, such as ICO.
The company has already applied for grant money from the U.S. government to accelerate drilling at ICO targeting an increase to mineral resource and reserve, as well as for studies to assess construction of a cobalt refinery in the U.S. Both of these efforts, officials noted, can proceed as planned despite ICO’s suspension.
“Jervois is optimistic that it can benefit from recently announced U.S. government programs to financially support the development of U.S. supply chains of critical minerals, including cobalt,” Crocker said.
“Jervois remains confident regarding the medium- and longer-term future of cobalt and in the trajectory of structurally higher prices. ICO continues to be a key part of delivering Jervois’ strategy of acquiring and operating geopolitically strategic mining and critical mineral processing assets important to energy transition and the defense industry.”
The miner has to date spent about US$130 million on construction at ICO and has a current cash balance of about $52 million.
Source: Jervois Global