The flooded bottom of an abandoned silver mine is an unlikely source of hope. But down there in the flickering light, a once worthless metal known as cobalt has sat idle for decades. Now it’s one of the most sought after metals in the world and that has many in this town in northern Ontario dreaming of boom times once again.
A century ago, prospectors came to Cobalt, Ont., in search of silver. They found it, and the town boomed. Amid all the silver, miners also found cobalt. So much that they named the town after it. Back then though, it was a mere indicator, a sign that something of actual value was nearby.
Now, all that ignored and discarded cobalt is the town’s best hope.
“The potential here is huge,” says Frank Basa, chief executive officer of Canada Cobalt Works.
Cobalt the metal has had a spectacular run over the past few years. And now Cobalt the town is poised to cash in.
The metal has become a key component in the electric batteries that power our phones and our cars. Almost all of it is currently mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. Mining there has been plagued with concerns over human rights abuses, child labour and environmental issues.
Basa is convinced there’s enough cobalt in the ground under the small town in Northern Ontario to warrant hundreds of millions of dollars in investment.