Apple deal to buy cobalt directly from miners could provide path for struggling Canadian companies – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – February 22, 2018)

With cobalt prices soaring and fears of a potential shortage mounting, reports emerged Wednesday that Apple Inc. is in talks with a mining company to secure a direct supply of the scarce metal — a critical component of batteries.

It’s the type of deal that Fortune Minerals Ltd.’s chief executive Robin Goad has been trying to broker for years. Since 1996, Goad has raised tens of millions of dollars and completed a feasibility study that showed his project in the Northwest Territories could produce 1,615 tonnes of cobalt annually — about 37 per cent of what Canada produced in 2017.

But he couldn’t obtain financing to build the mine, so now he’s hired the consulting firm PwC to find a strategic investor to help finance construction in exchange for a share of the cobalt production.

“This has been a 25-year instant success,” he joked. “We have the major mine permits (and) we spent $125 million to getting to where we are today.”

Part of the mine’s problems relates to its location: About 150 kilometres from Yellowknife. To operate, the mine needs a road, which is currently awaiting environmental review, and has not yet been permitted, let alone financed and built.

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