Northern Cobalt (ASX: N27) has kicked off a scoping study on its flagship Stanton cobalt deposit, part of its Wollogorang project in the Northern Territory, with an upgraded inferred resource estimate anticipated to be released by the end of March.
The scoping study team has begun inspecting the drill core from 10 diamond drill holes that were transported to Adelaide just before Christmas.
To undertake the scoping study and resource calculations, Northern Cobalt has appointed independent geologists AMC Consultants as well as metallurgist and a mining engineers Process Metallurgy.
The company has also engaged environmental consultants ERIAS Group to carry out environmental impact studies.
Northern Cobalt anticipates the scoping study will be completed mid-year along with an indicated resource estimate.
The news follows an airborne magnetic survey in late December that identified several magnetic anomalies across the Wollogorang project with similar characteristics to Stanton. The airborne magnetic survey covered 90 square kilometres of ground across a 25m flight line.
Almost 3,700 line-km of magnetic and radiometric data was gathered during the survey.
According to the company, the data has “significant implications” for identifying additional cobalt mineralisation across the area.
After debuting on the ASX in September last year, Northern Cobalt began a large drilling program across Wollogorang with 70 reverse circulation holes drilled at Stanton.
In mid-December, Northern Cobalt reported intersections of 11m grading 0.29% cobalt including a 2m interval with 2.30% cobalt, and 9m grading 0.34% cobalt with a 1m interval of 2.33% cobalt, 0.45% copper and 1.01% nickel.
Stanton currently has an initial inferred resource of 500,000t grading 0.17% cobalt, 0.09% nickel and 0.11% copper.
To-date, the mineralisation pulled out of Stanton has been predominantly cobalt sulphide and non-refractory, which the company claims will reduce processing costs by eliminating the need for roasting to eradicate waste elements such as iron.
Cobalt market thriving
The cobalt market is thriving due to the rocketing lithium-ion battery sector, which is predicted to become the world’s primary energy source in years to come, due its use in sustainable and renewable energy sectors.
Cobalt demand is forecast to hit 120,000t by 2025 from 53,000t in 2015, and an already tight supply situation exists, triggering the commodity’s price to hit 10-year highs recently, with the metal hovering at US$75,000 per tonne the last few weeks.
Adding to the situation is the fact that more than half the world’s cobalt comes out of the Democratic Republic of Congo – a country with questionable ethics and political instability, due to human rights investigations into child labour in the country’s mines.
Recently, Tesla and Apple officially boycotted all DRC cobalt, opening the gate for other suppliers around the world to provide a more ethically sourced and stable cobalt.
As it fast-tracks towards production, Northern Cobalt has positioned itself as one of these companies with its project in a mining friendly jurisdiction and access to requisite infrastructure.
Shares in Northern Cobalt remained steady at A$0.46 in mid-afternoon trade.