As investor anticipation mounted for Tesla Inc.’s much-hyped, self-proclaimed Battery Day on Wednesday, Trent Mell was upset just thinking about it.
Mell, chief executive of Toronto-based First Cobalt Corp., has spent three years trying to secure a ground floor seat in the burgeoning electric vehicle industry.
In 2017, his company bought a long-forgotten refinery in small-town northern Ontario that could, if everything goes right, produce five per cent of the world’s battery grade cobalt, about 25,000 tons, by 2021. It would be the first, and only, refinery in North America producing battery-grade cobalt.
Before that can happen though, First Cobalt needs to raise $60 million, and Musk isn’t making it any easier.
With his bold promises to cut cobalt out of Tesla’s car’s batteries — a technological feat still considered impossible — or secure Tesla’s own supply of lithium from a barren patch of Nevada desert, Musk has wowed investors with his bravado, built one of the most valuable companies in the world and made himself a billionaire many times over.