ASX-listed nickel explorer, Auroch Minerals has hit the ground running in the new year with the improving nickel price spurring the company to get cracking on a maiden RC drill program at its new, high-grade Nepean nickel project located 25 kilometres south of Coolgardie in WA.
The Perth-based company recently picked up 80 per cent of the historic nickel project in a $4 million cash-and-scrip transaction, with Auroch responsible for $3.5 million of the total consideration.
Nepean takes in the historic high-grade Nepean underground nickel sulphide mine, which produced 32,202 tonnes of nickel between 1970 and 1987 from 1.1 million tonnes of ore that averaged a recovered grade of 2.99 per cent nickel. Nickel mineralisation was discovered at Nepean more than half a century ago by Metals Exploration, who trucked the rich ore to Western Mining Corp’s nearby Kambalda concentrator for processing.
Auroch’s planned RC drill program, which is set to kick off next week, comprises approximately 30 holes for an aggregate of about 3,500 metres. It is designed to test possible near-mine extensions to known high-grade massive nickel sulphide mineralisation at Nepean.
Previously untested high-priority targets along 10km of what the company says is underexplored strike of the Nepean nickel-bearing mafic-ultramafic stratigraphy and or aeromagnetic anomalies will also get a piece of the drilling action in the same campaign.
In addition to exploring the extents of the known high-grade nickel sulphide mineralisation in and around the historic mine, we look forward to drilling high-priority targets further along strike which we believe have enormous potential to host further significant nickel sulphide mineralisation.
With the nickel price already well over US$17,000 a tonne and forecast … to rise significantly over the next few years, 2021 will be a transformational year for Auroch as we consolidate our existing high-grade nickel sulphide resources and move towards scoping studies, whilst at the same time continue to aggressively explore for new nickel discoveries.
The company says it has already identified several near-mine drill targets to potentially extend the known mineralisation, particularly along strike to the south where historic RC drilling successfully intersected high-grade nickel sulphide mineralisation.
Some of the stand-out relatively shallow intersections from the drilling in 2008 included 3m going an eye-watering 11.78 per cent nickel from 37m, 3m at 9.93 per cent nickel from 49m, 4m at 6.63 per cent nickel from 46m, and 6m at 2.82 per cent nickel from 53m.
Nepean also comes with a remnant JORC (2004)-compliant inferred resource of 591,300 tonnes of ore at a not-to-be-sneezed-at average grade in the current nickel price environment, of 2.2 per cent nickel for 13,250 tonnes of contained nickel.
Auroch also intends undertaking down-hole electromagnetic surveying to assist in modelling and delineation of any potential further mineralisation.
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