First Cobalt Begins Permitting and Environmental Programs at Iron Creek
First Cobalt's strategy in 2019 is to advance and de-risk our two key assets: the Iron Creek Project in Idaho, USA and the First Cobalt Refinery in Ontario, Canada. Environmental and permitting work are critical next steps to progressing Iron Creek towards development. We are pleased to have the experience of Brown and Caldwell as we drive the project forward. 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. Baseline environmental data is critical to advancing the timeline toward production as we work towards developing an environmentally responsible source of cobalt in North America.
Mr. Mell went on to say, The First Cobalt Refinery offers the opportunity for early cash that could finance future work at Iron Creek. Metallurgical tests of cobalt hydroxide and other sources of third-party feed are ongoing and early indications are encouraging. 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.
Cobalt is essential for the growing electric vehicle market and cobalt assets outside China and the DRC remain exceedingly rare. There is no primary cobalt mining or refining in North America today and the potential for First Cobalt to produce ethical cobalt in a safe jurisdiction allows us to stand apart.
First Cobalt has engaged Brown and Caldwell as its primary environmental and permitting consultant for the Iron Creek Project in Idaho, USA due to the firm's strong reputation as a leading environmental consulting, engineering, design, and construction firm with more than 55 offices across the USA and Canada and over 70 years of experience. Services will be provided from its Boise, Idaho office, which has extensive experience in project permitting, water management, environmental monitoring, and reclamation. Brown and Caldwell will be providing permitting guidance and overseeing the collection of environmental baseline data at the Iron Creek Project. Water quality data collection commenced in 2017 and is ongoing.
The Iron Creek Project has an Inferred Resource estimate of 26.9 million tonnes 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 (see September 25, 2018 press release). An alternative underground-only scenario results in 4.4 million tonnes 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 metres and a dip extent of over 150 metres. 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 towards the end of the first quarter of 2019.
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.