Jervois Global is suspending final construction and full concentrator commissioning at its Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) in the western US due to low cobalt prices and increased inflationary impacts on construction costs, Kallanish reports.

The Australia-based company says it expects cobalt prices to “recover over the medium term” and adds that it expects to complete the nearly-finished Idaho project in the future.

The cobalt prices recovery will come from the burgeoning energy transition and the fact that Western cobalt purchasers will be inclined to buy from sources like Jervois with Western ESG credentials, the company adds. That price recovery will likely occur when new cobalt refining begins in the US, it says.

According to Jervois, not mining the deposit “at cyclically low prices will preserve the optionality and inherent strategic value” of the deposit. The demobilisation of contractors is underway and will be completed in the coming weeks.

Exploratory cobalt drilling in Idaho will continue alongside studies to build a cobalt refinery in the United States. The company says it hopes to benefit from US government-backed programmes to support the US supply chain for critical minerals. It had planned to refine the Idaho cobalt in Brazil.

The ICO project in east-central Idaho had been scheduled to begin initial ore processing in early Q2 2023, with 30,000 short tons of ore currently stockpiled. It would have been the only operating cobalt mine in the US.

Costs have increased from $107.5 million to more than $130m, the company says.

With measured and indicated cobalt resources of 5.77m t and inferred resources of 1.73m t, the project could produce 1,915 tonnes/year of cobalt, 2,900 t/y of copper and 6,700 ounces/y of gold over the eight-year life of the mine.