CobalTech Mining (CSK.V) – Course is set to dominate the Cobalt Arena
Last week Venture Recon introduced our readers to CSK.V / BNCIF, CobalTech Mining. We thought that much more needed to be examined to determine why the endorsement of CSK and why now?
Right out of the gate, I need to talk about CobalTech’s Press Release that went out yesterday (See it here). CobalTech Mining just acquired additional strategically located properties around its Duncan Kerr Project in the heart of the Cobalt Camp, Ontario. The land package is now 8-fold of what they had in explorable prospective properties. CobalTech Mining now controls 264 hectares, including 9 historical past producing mines – more than one can shake a stick at!
The new properties had an estimated total output of 4.55 million ounces of silver and 253,000 pounds of cobalt while all at production depths never exceeding 186m from surface. The Conisil mine, owned by Agnico Eagle when it was closed in 1994, may contain non-compliant resources of almost 72,000 tonnes grading 0.17% cobalt and containing 270,462 lb. of cobalt and 500,000 oz. of silver.
“It is exciting to be able to acquire such quality assets with so much potential in what is considered a mature mining camp. The acquisition was made to build the foundation for CobalTech’s plan to significantly expand its presence in the cobalt sector. The company now has the necessary core properties to be able to implement its business strategy,” commented Antoine Fournier, President and CEO.
We look forward to learning more about the newly acquired properties.
CobalTech is working toward becoming a major cobalt miner and producer, supplying the growing North American battery market. One statement that repeatedly gets used by “cleantech” industry writers is that much needs to be done if we are really going to say “goodbye” to fossil fuels. This is very true, however, with almost exponential advancements in technologies year to year and the ever increasing reduction in costs to produce them, developments are happening fast.
From our previous article, a reader will know that in the last 6 months, management at CobalTech has changed, for the better, to position itself for the next phase of the company’s development. Changes were necessary in order for CobalTech to adapt to a different role in the industry, with more experience and expertise in the areas of milling and marketing their considerable stockpiles. It is important to commend the previous CEO Mr. Spiro Kletas, for recognizing that a change was needed. Antoine Fournier is the newly named CEO and President, and he brings with him twenty-five years of experience in “industrial and high-tech metals.” As stated in the news release dated November 23, 2016, Mr. Fournier’s main task from the outset is to “evaluate the current state of development of the Duncan Kerr Project and determine the best route to accelerate this asset up the value curve and into production.” It is becoming an ever developing story that Cobalt producers are being sourced by technologies on several levels and as stated earlier, the pace of technology is exponential, and so may be the need for milled Cobalt.
To better understand the technologies where Cobalt can best be used, it is important to begin with the Lithium Ion Battery, as it is the primary storage consideration for most offshoots as they relate to Cobalt.
Lithium Ion Battery
In Lithium-ion batteries, Cobalt is used in the cathode, LiCoO2. The batteries have wide appeal because current battery applications are light weight, have a small footprint, and a quick response time (∼1500–10,000 W/L, ∼75–200 W h/kg, ∼150–2000 W/kg). These batteries are also considered to have high cycle efficiencies, up to ∼97%. A few of the concerns that have complicated consumer applications, the electric car for example, are reflected in the lifespan of a battery pack. “Usually (the battery pack) requires an on-board computer to manage its operation, which increases its overall cost.” It must be stated that although costs and lifespans are important, most automobiles have some semblance of on-board computer, and the lifetime of these batteries is always improving. Much time and effort has been put towards sourcing the right materials to improve not only costs, but efficiency as well.
Cobalt is also important to Solar applications. Like Lithium Ion Batteries, Solar has a way to go before becoming fully adopted and implemented globally. Solar has been consistently reducing costs, but one of the biggest issues is storage, in a small, lightweight vessel. It appears that on small scale, and in future applications a larger scale, these two industries could benefit one another. It already seems to be moving in that direction. Recently, “out of a survey of 360 solar installers, conducted within the 12 months of 2016, energy storage emerged as the most popular new item that companies plan to start offering in 2017.” As companies like Toshiba, Tesla, Panasonic, Samsung and LG Chem lower the costs of making lithium-ion batteries, a crop of companies has emerged to install these low-cost batteries. Stated earlier, technology is advancing and that allows costs to come down and applications to broaden as well.
A point worth noting is what Panasonic has done with energy companies in Australia. Panasonic signed a deal with three companies in 2015 to trial battery-storage technology. “The system, which was designed specifically for the Australian market, is expected to help users double their rates of self-consumption from 30 to 60 per cent.” It has been widely reported that solar power has and continues to be an accepted and significantly adopted means by Australians. “Rooftop installations of solar photo-voltaic panels have already surpassed a third of all houses in Queensland.” Current local regulations in Australia imply that it “makes more economic sense to look into battery-stored energy options’ for Australian citizens due to high costs of power from the grid. As the rest of the world comes around, things look promising for Cobalt uses in Solar energy storage.
Another massive application for Cobalt use in energy storage will be in MicroGrids. Given the price decline of energy storage and solar application in the last few years “the arrival of advanced grid-forming inverters, and the impacts of solar penetration have made MicroGrids more cost-effective and attractive.” Some companies in this sector have done well, and others have struggled, but as with most things, it appears to be about how fast the technology advances, and how quickly those advances bring the costs down.
A shining example of technological advancement occurred in Toronto for the utility distribution company PowerStream. Reliability of delivery was poor, and using conventional methods for improvement proved costly. “They decided to test whether a microgrid really could defer a traditional grid investment.” They decided on innovation and chose a micro grid project that included a “500-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery from Samsung SDI with an advanced MicroGrid controller and 750 kilovolt-ampere inverter.”
The results were encouraging and pointed in a positive direction for the application. “The microgrid can run the town for 42 minutes, considerably longer than the usual outage of 10 minutes. When an outage is not expected, the battery can earn some revenue by arbitraging from cheap to expensive generation.”
Popular opinion sees the next five to ten years as crucial for global technological change. The Electric car in most countries outside North America is gaining acceptance and being considered a real alternative and reliable cost effective renewable energy is gaining ground and growing significantly. The key factors as stated many times in this article as it relates to batteries are the costs and their reliability. The current research from the big Lithium Ion players is focused on “increasing battery power capability with the use of nano-scale materials and enhancing battery specific energy by developing advanced electrode materials and electrolyte solutions.” Testing from areas worldwide for uses in wind turbines, solar cells, automobiles and micro grids will soon be reported and the results should prove the advancements in the battery. Sourcing materials, readily available from companies that have positioned themselves to act (like CobalTech has) will allow the pace of the technology to quicken and improve results for shareholders across multiple sectors as they find their use for energy storage.
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