First Cobalt completes muckpile sampling

First Cobalt has announced the completion of the first phase of an extensive sampling programme at mining operations in the Cobalt Camp in Ontario.

The programme provides a better understanding of representative grade characteristics of muckpiles and potential processing methods for early cash flow.

“This sampling programme is an important step forward in unlocking the cobalt potential in this camp. Success here could warrant reactivating the mill and potentially the refinery to generate early cash flow,” says Trent Mell, First Cobalt president and CEO.

Over 400 samples have been collected from fourteen muckpiles on First Cobalt’s patented ground, eleven in Cobalt South and three in Cobalt North. By learning more about the bulk grade characteristics of historic muckpile material, the company is studying the potential to generate early cash flow from processing historic muckpile material. “This programme is a cost-effective way to understand the potential value of muckpiles in the district and will provide valuable data that will support ongoing exploration activities.”

Image credit: First Cobalt

Muckpiles are mine rocks that were broken by blasting during historical mining operations. Most of the historic mines in the Cobalt Camp were narrow underground operations and muck not considered high grade silver ore was generally left on surface as uneconomic waste rock. Muckpile grab samples taken by First Cobalt in 2017 identified high grades of cobalt and other base metals. As silver was the focus of historical mining, there is limited understanding of the cobalt and other base metal endowment of the Cobalt Camp.

Following collection, samples were dried, crushed and riffle-split to produce a representative sample. The split was pulverised and submitted to an independent lab for assaying.  The unused split material will be retained for future metallurgical work. Using baseline data acquired through this small-scale programme, various methods for beneficiation of the mineralisation present in the muckpiles in the Cobalt Camp will also be examined.

In tandem with the sampling programme, three one-tonne samples were collected to test ore sorting technology with the intent of increasing the head grade of feed material.

If results warrant, First Cobalt intends to conduct a district-scale muckpile sampling programme to support an independent NI 43-101 technical report outlining the potential quantity and grade, expressed as ranges, of muckpiles surrounding the more than 50 past producing mines on the company’s land package. Each of these mines has at least one muckpile associated with it due to historical high-grade silver focused mining.

The muckpiles in this programme were sampled by surveying with aerial drone technology. Following the drone surveys, an excavator was used to create a cross section through each muckpile and samples were taken at various depths from within. A district-scale muckpile sampling program would include evaluation of alternative methods for sampling beyond the trenching method used in this study, such as sonic drilling, which could potentially shorten the time required for a district-scale muckpile evaluation.

First Cobalt has reported numerous high-grade cobalt assays from selective sampling programmes near past mining operations. Muckpile grab samples from the Juno and Drummond mines in Cobalt North returned grades of up to 3.9% cobalt, up to 1.63% zinc and up to 4.990g/t silver, while the Caswell mine in Cobalt Central returned elevated base metal values, with samples up to 9.44% cobalt, up to 1.27% copper and up to 2.92% nickel.

Finally, in Cobalt South, sampling from Bellellen in 2017 returned high grade cobalt values in fracture and disseminated material, including grades of up to 3.76% cobalt. These results across various styles of cobalt mineralisation demonstrate that there is more variation of mineralisation styles across the Cobalt Camp than previously thought.

First Cobalt’s land package includes about USD100-million of existing infrastructure including a mill and the only permitted cobalt refinery in North America designed to produce battery materials. The company is assessing whether the mill facility could be relocated and reactivated at the permitted First Cobalt Refinery Complex to generate early cash flow from the production of a saleable concentrate. Further processing of the concentrate into refined battery materials may also be possible.



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