First Cobalt Corp. is seeking to speed up its timetable to begin producing cobalt, riding the wave of interest in the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries and smartphones.
The Vancouver-based exploration company agreed to buy explorer US Cobalt Inc., which has properties in Idaho, in an all-stock deal with an implied equity value of about C$149.9 million ($116 million). Trading in the two companies’ shares was suspended.
“We’re trying to fast-track our way into North American mining and refining,” First Cobalt Chief Executive Officer Trent Mell said in an interview.
The price of cobalt has more than tripled in the last 18 months amid fears of a looming shortage. Electric-vehicle and smartphone manufacturers from Volkswagen AG to Apple Inc. have been racing to lock down cobalt contracts.
But most of the world’s cobalt is mined as a by-product found with other metals such as nickel and copper, and most comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a jurisdiction that’s become increasingly problematic.
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