By Journal Staff BLACKFOOT — A Canadian mine development company’s new facility in Bingham County is expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to the region.
eCobalt Solutions Inc. will build a hydrometallurgical refining facility off Pioneer Road outside Blackfoot’s city limits. The facility in Blackfoot will support a large-scale cobalt mining operation outside of Salmon.
Blackfoot Mayor Paul Loomis said he expects construction of eCobalt’s refining facility in Bingham County to be completed within the next two years and that 50 truck loads of construction materials have already been delivered to the site. A connecting railroad spur also has to be built.
“This is a big deal for Blackfoot,” Loomis said. “We are just thrilled about it.”
Once operational, the facility is expected to bring 60 to 90 new jobs to the area, with salaries within the $60,000 to $70,000 range, Loomis said.
The facility in Bingham County will be a major part of the company’s Idaho Cobalt Project, which is the only environmentally permitted, primary cobalt project in the United States.
According to a feasibility study released by the company, the project is designed to produce cobalt chemicals used for rechargeable batteries.
“This is a robust project that could eventually be the sole primary producer of cobalt in the United States,” said Paul Farquharson, president and CEO of eCobalt Solutions Inc., in a news release from the company. “The future outlook for the electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery markets further supports sustained and long-term demand for cobalt — a critical ingredient in the cathodes of rechargeable batteries.”
To support the underground mine and mill outside of Salmon, the company said it decided to build its cobalt production facility in the Blackfoot area because of the accommodating infrastructure in Bingham County. A report from eCobalt said the site is easily accessible to Interstate 15 and can utilize East Idaho’s skilled labor force.
The site off Pioneer Road also has low-cost electrical grid power, adjacent rail, potable water and access to local municipal sewer systems, the company said.
eCobalt Solutions Inc. is a company based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, that produces battery-grade cobalt salts used in renewable energy markets, including rechargeable batteries.