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  • Cobalt
  • Mines Producing Cobalt

The metal cobalt was discovered by George Brandt in Sweden in 1735, although it was used as cobalt salts in the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt for giving glass a deep blue hue. Brandt had been trying to prove that the blue colour given to glass had in fact been caused by a new element, cobalt, rather than that of bismuth, that was often found in the same places at cobalt. In nature it is a silver grey colour and has magnetic properties much like that of iron. Its artificially produced isotope cobalt-60 is used in the sterilisation of medicine and foods. It is also invaluable to human existence as the only metal that exists in vitamins (vitamin B12). Cobalt is also used as a catalyst in many industrial processes.

Most Cobalt is Recovered as a Lead, Nickel or Copper By-Product
Although cobalt can be made in a laboratory, this is not necessary, as it is available commercially as many ores contain it. However, many of these ores are not economically important therefore cobalt is produced commercially as a by-product from the processing of lead, nickel and copper ores.

Cobalt has many uses, some of them are as follows:
Cutlery and jewelery is coated with cobalt with an electroplating technique to create hardness and give them a resistance to oxidation.
Porcelain enamel ground coats are made from cobalt.
Cobalt-57 is used in medicine to discover the amount of vitamin B12 in a person's body.
Cobalt-60 is used in medicine as its gamma rays are able to sterilise medical objects, food etc. and for measuring density.
Cobalt compounds are used in industry as catalysts to quicken chemical reactions such as in liquid fuels and polymers.
Cobalt can be added to alloys to create super-alloys. These super-alloys keep a stable temperature and therefor find wide use in gas turbines and jet engines. It is also used in the manufacturing of prosthetic joints, some false teeth and permanent magnets.
It is used to create certain colours in inks, varnishes and paints.
Lithium cobalt oxide is used in lithium batteries. It is also used in re-chargeable NiMH batteries.
Cobalt-59 can be used to create a nuclear bomb. The explosion would be relatively small but the surrounding area would remain radio-active for a considerable time.

Australia has Large Cobalt Mining Project at Mt Thirsty in Western Australia
Australia has the worlds fourth largest Cobalt ore deposit at the Mt Thirsty Cobalt Nickel Manganese mining project 20 kilometres northwest of Norseman in Western Australia. The Mt Thirsty Project has the potential to become one of the worlds top ten cobalt producers as it will have a capacity to produce 3,000 tonnes of cobalt a year during its first three years of production.

The Mt Thirsty deposit differs from other Western Australia deposits as it is completely oxidised and has a low clay content. This will facilitate the using of cheaper atmospheric leaching process that won't require more expensive and problem proned autoclaves. The ore body at Mt Thirsty can also be extracted without the need for blasting and most of it is shallow, no more than 15 metres below the surface.

Australian Mines that produce Cobalt

Tritton ( NSW )

The Tritton Copper mine is showing potential to be an important producer for it owner Straits Resources in delivering high grade copper to its Asian customers.

Browns ( NT )

The Browns mine near Batchelor in Northern Territory remains on care and maintenance while owner HNC (Australia) Resources Pty Ltd assess viability.

Peko ( NT )

The Peko Rehabilitation Project is presently placed under care and maintenance but it still holds out hope of having a future when ore prices rise again.

Alec Mairs ( WA )

The Alec Mairs nickel mine near Leinster in Western Australia has been put on care and maintenance along with the other Cosmos operations.

Carnilya Hill ( WA )

Mining at the Carnilya Hill underground nickel mine at Kambalda in the Western Australia Eastern Goldfields ceased in March 2012.

Cliffs ( WA )

The Cliffs underground mine in Western Australia mines nickel and cobalt with workers flown in on a FIFO basis from Perth to stay at the unique Leinster village.

Lanfranchi ( WA )

Run of mine (ROM) ore mined at the Lanfranchi underground mine in Western Australia is delivered to BHP Billiton Nickel West Concentrator at Kambalda.

Lounge Lizard Nickel ( WA )

Lounge Lizard Nickel mine managing company, Western Areas Limited, purchased the mine from Kagara and added it to its Western Australia Forrestania resource.

Mariners ( WA )

Mariners mine is in the middle of Lake Zot. A flood filled the lake wrecking drilling equipment during its discovery. This led to the name, Mariners.

Mcleay ( WA )

The McLeay nickel/cobalt deposit, that is part of the Long Nickel Mine located at Kambalda in the Eastern Goldfields Region of W.A, is owned by IGO.

Miitel ( WA )

The Miitel nickel mine in W.A. was acquired by Mincor from WMC Resources in 2001 and in the next 11 years had produced 2.03 million tonnes of ore.

Mt Keith ( WA )

The Mount Keith nickel mine in W.A. is a member of the BHP Billiton Group. It is located 460 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie in the Northern Goldfields.

Murrin Murrin ( WA )

The Murrin Murrin nickel mine in the North Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia is owned by Glencore Xstrata and employs around 1,000 personnel.

Perseverance ( WA )

The Perseverance nickel mine near Leinster in Western Australia was closed by BHP Billiton Nickel West in December 2013 for being no longer safe to operate.

Savannah ( WA )

The Savannah copper, nickel and cobalt underground mine 240 kilometres south of Kununurra in Western Australia is owned by Panoramic Resources.

Tapinos ( WA )

The Tapinos nickel/cobalt underground mine at the Cosmos Mining Operations in Western Australia has been put on care and maintenance by GlencoreXstrata.

Maggie Hays ( WA )

Russian miner Norilsk Nickel has recommissioned the Maggie Hays underground nickel mine in WA after two years of closure created by the world economic downturn.

Cosmos ( WA )

The Cosmos mine in central Western Australia was placed under care and maintenance in September 2012

Sinclair ( WA )

The Sinclair Mine survived the downturn in world nickel prices when owner Xstrata closed its larger Cosmos Mine but continued with its Sinclair operation.

Wingellina ( WA )

The Western Australian remote Central Musgrave Ranges Wingellina nickel project has been suspended by MetalsX because of low nickel prices and a weak market.

Yakabindie ( VIC )

The Yakabindie nickel mine is W.A. that is owned by BHP Billiton Nickel West, has all approvals in place and will open when market conditions improve.

Ramu ( PNG )

The Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea made its first shipment of nickel and cobalt in November and was officially opened in December 2012.

Ravensthorpe ( WA )

The Ravensthorpe Nickel mine, 550 kilometres south east of Perth in Western Australia, exports nickel products to customers in Brazil, India and China.

Rocklands ( QLD )

The new Rocklands Group Copper Project ore processing plant is one of the best in the world.

Sconi ( QLD )

The SCONI Project, north west of Townsville in northern Queensland, has the potential to be the largest source of scandium in the world.

Mulga Rock ( WA )

The Mulga Rock Uranium Project in remote Western Australia will also produce nickel, cobalt and scandium when it becomes operational.

Niwest Nickel Laterite ( WA )

The NiWest Nickel Laterite Project at Murrin Murrin, in Western Australia, has the potential to be the first fully integrated nickel laterite heap leach project in the world.

Mutooroo ( SA )

The Mutooroo copper deposit in South Australia contains over 30 percent sulphur which can be processed to produce badly needed sulphuric acid and electricity.

White Range ( QLD )

The White Range Copper Project in north west Queensland, near Cloncurry, is owned by Chinese controlled, Queensland Mining Corporation (QMC).

Mt Thirsty ( WA )

The Mt Thirsty base metal project, that is located in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia, is being developed as a Joint Venture involving Barra Resources and Conico.

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