Cobalt miner Celsius Resources (ASX:CLA) has decided to all but stop evaluation work on its Opuwo project in Namibia due to the languishing cobalt price, sending shares into freefall.

After closing on Friday at 4.7c, Celsius shares fell as low as 1.4c, a 70 per cent drop and their lowest point since the company re-listed on the ASX in late 2016.

The company had been working on updating its scoping study for the project — in November last year it published a study on the large, long-life mine, but ASX rules prevented it from reporting production targets or financial metrics.

It had set shareholder expectations for the updated scoping study to arrive by the end of the March quarter, but told investors this morning it would “significantly slow” evaluation work.

Celsius Resources (ASX:CLA) share price over the past year.

“A positive economic outcome from the scoping study is highly dependent on both a robust cobalt price and successful results from the metallurgical test work,” it said.

“The initial results from the current metallurgical program have demonstrated that further test work is required to optimise the process for recovery of the value metals, including cobalt, from the mineralisation.

“In light of this and given the current and near term forecast pricing for cobalt, the company has decided it is in the best interests of shareholders to significantly slow work on the evaluation of the Opuwo Project, until such time as the cobalt price improves markedly from current levels.”

Celsius is keeping the lights on, however, saying the project has plenty of cobalt to be mined should prices improve, and that successful optimisation of metallurgical recovery of value metals from the mineralisation could also lead to the company “significantly change the board’s view” and lead to accelerated evaluation work.

In the meantime, the board itself will change, with managing director Brendan Borg stepping down to a director and consultation role due to the vastly reduced time commitments needed.

It also says it will “evaluate additional opportunities in the battery minerals space” with its $9.6 million cash in the bank.

Two months ago the company was examining different but “potentially highly significant” cobalt and copper mineralisation at the same project.