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INTERVIEW-Celsius aims to bring Namibia's first cobalt mine to production by 2020

Mon 5th March, 2018 12:13pm
* Deposit is Namibia's first cobalt find
    * Cobalt in demand for electric vehicle market
    * Scramble on for cobalt sources outside of DRC

    By Ed Stoddard
    JOHANNESBURG, March 5 (Reuters) - Australia's Celsius
Resources  CLA.AX , which has made Namibia's first cobalt
discovery, is aiming to start production from the remote mine in
2020, the company's managing director said.
    Cobalt is a key component in rechargeable lithium-ion
batteries used in the surging electric car market but most of it
comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country
racked by instability and violence, prompting a scramble for
alternative sources.
    "We have found cobalt in Namibia and a lot of it. Everywhere
we drill a hole along this prospective horizon we find cobalt,"
Celsius Managing Director Brendan Borg told Reuters.
    Celsius will declare its maiden resource - the initial
estimate of how much is economically extractable - around the
end of March on the deposit, which is in the remote northwest of
Namibia, a sparsely-populated country which is also a
significant diamond and uranium producer. 
    Rio Tinto  RIO.L  drilled in the area around 100 km (60
miles) south of the Angola border in the early 1990s but was not
looking for cobalt at the time.
    The deposit is in a remote region but is close to decent
infrastructure - which Namibia is known for - such as good roads
and reliable power.
    "We are looking at late 2020 for first production," Borg
said. He said Celsius could do it with the company's Namibian
partner, unlisted Gecko Namibia, or it might divest from the
project before that time.
    "We have an open mind. We have the building blocks in place
to go all the way to production given our relationship with
Gecko. Whether we actually do or not is another question," Borg
    "There may come an opportunity at some time to divest the
project and we certainly have an open mind on that." 
    Borg also said there were possibilities to produce cobalt
sulphate, which is used in battery production, in Namibia for
export. Acid used in the uranium industry can also be utilised
in cobalt processing.
    "There is good acid production capacity in Namibia at the
moment, it is underutilised because of the downturn in the
uranium industry," Borg said. 
    Production could take place at the mine site or in the
Namibian port of Walvis Bay on Africa's south Atlantic coast. 

 (Editing by David Evans)
 ((Edward.Stoddard@thomsonreuters.com; +27 11 775 3160; Reuters
Messaging: edward.stoddard.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
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