Special Report: Drilling will kick off next week at Auroch’s (ASX:AOU) recently acquired – and tremendously exciting — Nepean nickel project, 25km south of Coolgardie in WA.

Nepean was the second nickel operation ever in Australia, producing 32,202 tonnes of nickel metal at an average recovered grade of 2.99 per cent between 1970-87.

It closed because of low nickel prices — not because it ran out of metal. With nickel prices surging above 17,000/t in the new year it certainly is an exciting time for Auroch to be progressing exploration activity at the highly prospective Nepean Project.

In 2007, former owner Focus Minerals (ASX:FML) estimated a remaining resource of about 13,250t contained nickel at 2.20 per cent.

But Auroch believes there’s a lot more where that came from.

There are similarities to the Flying Fox mine which, like Nepean, was supposedly constrained at depth.

Western Areas acquired Flying Fox in 2003 after it had produced approximately 8,000t of nickel before encountering a granitic dyke at depth.

“WSA subsequently drilled below the granite and discovered significantly more high-grade nickel sulphide mineralisation and has since produced over 100kt of contained nickel metal,” Auroch managing director Aiden Platel says.

“WSA’s later discovery of the Spotted Quoll nickel sulphide deposit along strike from the Flying Fox mine adds further weight to the analogy, with the Nepean nickel project containing over 10km of strike of mine sequence stratigraphy that has seen very little historic drilling below the weathered profile.”

Drilling for the next Flying Fox

This new drilling program has two aims: test for possible extensions to the high-grade nickel sulphide mineralisation near the historic mine and drill previously untested targets along the project’s 10km of underexplored strike.

Auroch identified several near-mine drill targets to potentially extend the known high-grade massive nickel, particularly to the south where historic drilling successfully intersected very high-grades like 3m at 11.78 per cent nickel from 37m, and 3m @ 9.93 per cent nickel from 49m.

Drilling will also test several high-priority targets along strike within the 3,128ha tenement package.

All up, the drill program will comprise approximately 30 holes for 3,500m and is expected to take several weeks.

Down-hole electromagnetic (DHEM) surveys will then be undertaken to assist in modelling and definition of any potential further mineralisation.

DHEM surveying involves sending a probe attached to a wire cable down a completed drill-hole.

The probe is able to detect conductive sulphide mineralisation off-hole, with the potential to “see” mineralisation up to 75m away.

The results from the drilling and DHEM surveys will be released to the market as they are received.

“We are very excited to be kicking off our 2021 exploration programmes with a RC drill program at the recently-acquired high-grade Nepean Nickel Project,” Platel says.

“With the nickel price already well over US$17,000/t and forecast to continue 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.”


This article was developed in collaboration with Auroch Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.