First Cobalt, which owns the Iron Creek Cobalt Project in Lemhi County, entered a $5 million loan agreement with Glencore AG on Aug. 26 to complete engineering, metallurgical testing, field work and permitting associated with a recommissioning and expansion of the First Cobalt refinery in Canada.

According to a press release from First Cobalt, the loan will allow for an assessment of the suitability of the refinery to treat Glencore material to produce cobalt sulfate for the North American electric vehicle market.

“We are delighted to be working with Glencore to bring a domestic supply of battery-grade cobalt to the North American market,” First Cobalt President and CEO Trent Mell said in the release. “Subject to the results achieved over the next six months, both parties would like to target first production in late 2020. Cobalt prices have increased considerably over the past few weeks and the outlook for the electric vehicle market remains exceptionally strong.”

First Cobalt’s Canada refinery is the only permitted primary cobalt refinery in North America. Most of the world’s cobalt refining processes take place in China.