Welcome to Eagle’s Eye: The Responsible Mining Podcast. In this episode, our host Alan Coutts, President & CEO of Noront Resources talks to First Cobalt CEO Trent Mell about the electric vehicle (EV) market, why cobalt is a scarce resource, and the importance of ethical sourcing and upstream battery recycling.
Trent Mell started his career as a securities lawyer, but soon realized that he enjoyed the business side of mining. After spending time at nickel, palladium and gold companies, he began hearing about cobalt and its ties to the EV revolution. So, in 2017 he took the helm at First Cobalt which is currently developing assets and a refinery to build a North American cobalt supply.
- How the popularity of consumer electronics like mobile phones, computers and electric vehicles has made cobalt a sought-after ingredient in lithium ion batteries. Previously it had mainly industrial use, in jet engines and gas turbines. (3:53)
- LFP vs. LCO vs NCM lithium ion battery chemistries—the costs and efficiencies. (5:10)
- Why cobalt is scarce and how new applications have increased demand to the point that about 100 companies were looking for cobalt in 2017. (9:28)
- The importance of ethical mining when dealing with artisanal producers. (11:37)
- How a plan to locally produce cobalt got the attention of Ottawa and the White House as well as German and North American auto supply EV manufacturers. (16:36)
- First Cobalt’s plans for exploration and refining in North America. (20:00)
“The interesting part for me is…when Elon Musk tweeted that he was going to take cobalt right out of the next generation of his batteries. Can you do that? No, I don’t think so.” (7:13)
“This facility has a really interesting role as a North American refiner, not just the mine piece, but as a recycled battery material, really interesting.” (22:16)
If you enjoyed this episode of Eagle’s Eye, check out Nickel and the Emerging Electric Vehicle Battery Market S1:E3 and visit the Projects page for details about Noront’s plan to responsibly develop its nickel assets in the Ring of Fire.
Listen to this episode below: