Centaurus’ Jaguar nickel project leaps closer to development with 28% resource rise
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Centaurus is well positioned to become a substantial nickel producer after upgrading resources at its world-class Jaguar green nickel project by 28% to 938,500t of contained metal.
This is the sixth largest nickel sulphide resource held by an ASX-listed company and the largest outside of the majors, while its head-grade is beaten only by BHP’s Leinster Operations.
Where it gets really exciting for the company is that the majority of the resource at the Brazilian project is now in the higher confidence Measured and Indicated categories, which increased by more than 100% to 85.8Mt grading 0.85% nickel, or 730,300t of contained nickel.
This will underpin the maiden ore reserve estimate for the project that will in turn underpin the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) – due in mid-2023 – for a project with a mine life of more than 20 years and with production of over 20,000 tonnes per annum of nickel in sulphate.
As the icing on the already rich cake, Centaurus Metals (ASX:CTM) will also benefit from the definition of a high-grade component with 431,800t of contained nickel that is likely to deliver high head grades (and cashflow) during the project pay-back period.
Access to this material, which makes up a good 46% of the overall resource, will come early with 30% located within 100m of surface.
Further exploration is likely to add even more tonnes as the mineralisation remains open at depth and locally along plunge and strike.
In line with this, recent assays from step-out drilling have already returned results such as 42.5m at 1.01% nickel from a down-hole depth of 496m at Jaguar South while infill drilling struck a very high-grade intersection of 4m at 9.22% nickel from 12m at Jaguar North.
Managing director Darren Gordon said the resource upgrade was a pivotal milestone in the project’s evolution towards becoming one of the world’s premier nickel sulphide developments with class-leading ESG credentials.
“Delivering another major step-up in the global MRE including a more than 100% increase in the high-confidence Measured and Indicated component to over 730kt of contained nickel is a fantastic achievement by the entire Centaurus team, and marks the culmination of a huge effort over the past 12 months,” he added.
“Importantly more than 600kt of the Measured and Indicated component sits within a US$22,000/t Ni pit shell and, as such, we expect to see a strong conversion of the Measured and Indicated Resource to Ore Reserves to underpin the DFS that is set for delivery by mid-2023.
“This provides a great platform for Jaguar to produce +20,000t of nickel in sulphate per annum for 20-plus years, setting Centaurus on the path to become a top-10 nickel sulphide miner globally.
Gordon also reiterated the company’s confidence that the Jaguar project can deliver nickel, which is in high demand for the electric vehicle batteries, with low levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is due to the relatively high-grade nature of the ore, tapping into the fact that 80% of the power in Brazil is generated from renewable sources, and that a value-added nickel sulphate produced will be produced on site.
“At the presently assessed level of 4.69 tonnes of CO2/tonne of nickel equivalent, the Jaguar Project will be one of the lowest carbon emission projects in the global nickel industry,” he explained.
While the upgraded resource is enough to underpin the DFS, Centaurus is not resting on its laurels with 10 diamond rigs and one reverse circulation rig on site to build it up further.
Drilling at Jaguar will now focus on organic resource through systematic step-out and extensional drilling, with Gordon confident that a contained nickel resource of more than 1Mt is well within reach in 2023.
The company noted that the hydrothermal mineralisation at the project points to a deep plumbing system which remains untested, with just 24 of its 536 diamond holes reaching depths of more than 500m.
These have already proved their worth with every single deep hole intersecting stringer to semi-massive nickel mineralisation.
Exploration will also test down-hole electromagnetic conductor plates and greenfields drilling of its extensive regional exploration pipeline.
Potential targets include the Santa Inês and Terra Rox projects, which are both located on recently granted exploration licences within 30km of the proposed jaguar plant site and could represent become satellites to the main development if nickel sulphide is discovered.
This article was developed in collaboration with Centaurus Metals, 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.