Premier Cook throws weight behind proposed cobalt/nickel refinery

19th January 2024 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Western Australia Premier Roger Cook has thrown his weight behind the proposed cobalt and nickel refinery that Cobalt Blue Holdings and its partner Iwatani Australia plan to build in the Kwinana Industrial Area near the Fremantle Port.

In a letter from the Premier, Cook noted the close alignment of the proposed refinery with Western Australia’s Battery and Critical Minerals Strategy and the Diversify WA Economic Development Framework and said that it would further establish the state as a national battery material production hub.

Project support from the Premier should assist in streamlining project approvals, notably a modification to the existing site ‘works approval’, Cobalt Blue said in a statement on Friday.

The support should also assist in financing negotiations with Australian and international entities.

“We are thrilled to receive this support,” said CEO Joe Kaderavek, noting that government support and strong test work results derisked the refinery project.

Blue Cobalt further reported that its Broken Hill demonstration plant had received two bulk samples of targeted third-party feedstock. The samples are being processed to represent US and EU market-compliant feedstock from Australian and international sources. The samples will form the basis of commercial feedstock for the refinery.

Initial 50 kg to 100 kg samples are being processed at the Broken Hill plant, with initial results confirming up to 95% to 97% cobalt extraction has been achieved.

Samples of the cobalt and nickel products will be used to further offtake negotiations in the first half of 2024.