The first and only cobalt mine in the U.S. for decades has been opened in Idaho. Its reopening comes while the world is in transition to green energy, sparking demand for the unique metal. Cobalt is used in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries and battery storage.
The reopening of the site run by Australia-based company Jervois Global has been hailed by state officials pushing for green development. Cobalt is seen as one of the minerals that will be vital in fast-racking America’s transition to electric energy while making the country more energy secure.
“We’re talking about building a world-class clean energy economy, and this mine, this project … is key to that vision,” said the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geri Richmond as reported by NPR.
While its reopening has been welcomed, the site located near the Salmon River is a reminder of the environmental dark past. The old mine was shut down in 1982 following heavy pollution in local trout streams. Concerns about such potential pollution have been raised by the company has clarified its position.
Jervois Global CEO Bryce Crocker says that the company has put in place measures that will safeguard the environment from any potential harm. The measures include $44 million set aside for cleanup purposes. Further, reports show that the new mine will be mostly underground operated, reducing the chances of exposing the outside environment to harm.
“I think this is a really important development for the U.S.,” Crocker said. “This is geopolitically significant because the U.S. has no cobalt supply domestically.”
The mine will give America a foothold in the cobalt production and processing front. Today, most of the cobalt in the world is mined from the Congo. The mines have been tainted by allegations of widespread child labor, with most of the cobalt being processed and used in China.
“Idaho’s is the only cobalt mine in the United States and it’s going to remain so,” Crocker said. “So we viewed it as a strategically important asset for the country.”
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