Australian miner Jervois Mining has announced plans to buy Finland-based Freeport Cobalt for US $160 million in a deal that could make it the second largest cobalt producer outside China.
The acquisition would be funded through a US $230.90 million underwritten equity raising, with Jervois’ largest shareholder, Australian Super, committing to invest about A$50 million. Geneva-based commodity trading giant Mercuria is also set to invest up to US $40 million as part of the equity raise, Jervois added.
Second largest producer of refined cobalt
The deal comes close on the heels of a US $100 million bond offering by Jervois to help fund the construction of its Idaho cobalt operation in the United States, which is slated to start production in mid-2022. Combined with its buy of the São Miguel Paulista nickel and cobalt refinery in Brazil, the company said it was potentially on track to become the second largest producer of refined cobalt outside China.
Cobalt, an important mineral used in the manufacturing of electric cars, is mainly sourced from artisanal miners working in dangerous conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and major automakers like Tesla have said they are working towards moving away from the metal’s usage for the same reason.However, the metal remains integral to the manufacturing of electric vehicles. In the interim, cobalt demand is forecast to double between now and 2030, according to trade house Trafigura.