What is the the Idaho Cobalt Belt?
The Idaho Cobalt Belt (ICB) is the largest of its kind in the United States, but exploration into the site has been limited to date at best. Located in Lemhi County and trending northwest, cobalt (Co) deposits of the ICB are mined in the Salmon River Mountains of east-central Idaho.
Idaho Cobalt Belt Production
Annually, the ICB produces close to 2,000 metric tons of one of the Gem State’s most valuable minerals. The ICB is owned and operated by Jervois Global, an Australian-based company.
As reported by Environment & Climate News, Jervois Global specializes in extracting minerals for use in the production of lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles and electronics. Additionally, cobalt is also a key component in the manufacturing of rechargeable battery electrodes, superalloys found in jet turbines, and magnets found in wind turbines. While mining cobalt remains the focus of the major miner, it also extracts copper and gold.
Jervois Global & Idaho
Jervois Global permits companies such as Idaho-based Electra to conduct private mining initiatives and make load claims across 23 km² of land. Back in 2020, the global electric vehicle market was valued at over $163.01 billion. Heading into 2030, the EV market is estimated to reach $823.75 billion, making it the primary driver behind global cobalt mining efforts with Idaho is spearheading America's efforts.
Idaho, the Anti-Mining Bias & Jobs
Throughout the Obama years, the nation maintained an anti-mining bias with environmental and climate issues chief among concern. On how it intends to mitigate the effect mining will have on Idaho's natural environment, Jervois Global says “the site will operate on a zero-discharge basis with the water used in our processes, so there will be no degradation to rivers and streams." Regarding the protection of climate policies, the president of the Cornwall Alliance for Stewardship of Creation, E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., says, "Regardless how stringent climate policies are, or how rapidly we move from internal combustion to electric vehicles, increasing battery needs around the world presage a huge increase in demand for cobalt."
In short, America is nothing like the Congo where environmental stewardship and human rights are ignored in favor of economic advancement. In demonstrating ethical mining practices with respect for human and environmental rights, Dr. Beisner believes America will overcome its anti-mining bias shortly after operations launch at the end of 2022. According to Idaho Commerce, Idaho's substantial involvement in the cobalt mining movement will yield approximately 200 in-state jobs in the Iron Creek area. It's an opportunity locals are ready to embrace amid difficult economic times.