NickelSearch ramps up indicated nickel sulphide resources in huge step at Carlingup project
NickelSearch has set itself one step closer on the pathway to becoming a nickel sulphide producer, posting a significant upgrade in indicated nickel sulphide resources at its Carlingup project to more than 40,000t.
NickelSearch (ASX:NIS) is looking to revive the nickel sulphide mining industry on WA’s South Coast at Carlingup, which includes the historic and high grade RAV8, mined by Tectonic Resources in the mid-2000s nickel boom.
It’s sulphide JORC 2012 resource estimate has been upgraded to 11.6Mt at 0.56% nickel, 0.05% copper and 0.01% cobalt, an inventory of 64,900t of nickel.
Of that, 8.3Mt at 0.52% Ni, 0.06% Cu and 0.01% Co for 42,300t of nickel metal is in the higher indicated category, which can be used to calculate economic mineable reserves at the right nickel price, coming off the back of successful infill drilling programs in 2022.
The global JORC resource at Carlingup is now around 155,000t of contained nickel metal.
Sulphide ores are simpler to process than laterite ores, with multiple pathways to market.
Sulphide ores are the main nickel feedstock for electric vehicle batteries because they can be readily converted to nickel sulphate with lower pollution, energy requirements and CO2 emissions.
NickelSearch is investigating the use of heap leach technology to provide a low cost processing option, supported by potential extensions to the high grade underground zone at the historic RAV8 of 8400t at 3% nickel, and surface dump material which didn’t meet Tectonic’s processing grade cut-off of 1-1.5% Ni and above due to limitations at the time.
Drilling, validation of historic data and metallurgical test work has all helped enhance the confidence of the Carlingup mineral resource estimate, with NIS saying estimates for RAV1, RAV4 and RAV4 West demonstrate its potential to add resources through expanding the shallow open pits and discovering new deposits at Carlingup.
That includes more than 30 nickel sulphide targets with little to no previous drilling which have been identified across the Carlingup project.
Plenty of exploration activities are already planned to increase the scale and confidence in the Carlingup resource in 2023 as well.
Maiden RC programs are due to begin at Serendipity and B1 in April after a successful start to exploration at the similarly new Sexton prospect, where follow-up drilling to nickel sulphide intersections encountered in the early 2023 program is also expected to take place.
Extensional drilling will also take place at the RAV8 high grade mineralised zone, where newly identified potential near-surface mineralisation will be tested.
The plan is for NickelSearch to build on its existing shallow resource base by finding high grade nickel sulphides at depth.
“NickelSearch is focused on exploration for high-grade nickel sulphides at our Carlingup Project, which is underexplored at depth. We are confident that our systematic approach to exploration will deliver a nickel sulphide discovery, as we prioritise and test our prospective greenfield targets,” NIS managing director Nicole Duncan said.
“We are off to a great start to our greenfields exploration program following the successful nickel sulphide intersections at Sexton.
“We are extremely excited to test our high-priority targets at Serendipity, B1 and the high-grade underground extensions at RAV8.
“Today’s significant upgrade to Carlingup’s nickel sulphide Indicated Resources is an important milestone, providing a base from which we can confidently grow, including at RAV8.
“NickelSearch is committed to delivering value through increasing the confidence of our existing shallow resource base and progressing our heap leach processing solution, which we believe will be the most economic pathway forward.”
NIS is planning programs to define deeper mineralised material beneath the base of the open pit resources to a reportable level.
The RAV11 prospect in the middle of the RAV4 and RAV4-West deposits is also mineralised and could add to resources.
While a new industry-leading approach to resource estimation has limited open pit resources at RAV8 to 50m below the historic open pit, cutting the reported resource base by over 50%, reconciliation with past production, and confirmation of high proportions of soluble nickel has provided confidence to upgrade a significant portion of the open pit resources from inferred to indicated.
“There is further potential to capture grade continuity of high-grade disseminated/massive mineralisation for potential underground mining at RAV8. The current resource indicates high continuity (at Inferred Classification) and NiS is working to test this assumption,” NIS said.
NickelSearch is bullish about its greenfields exploration program as well, with Sexton looking like it could progress to become a significant discovery.
Assay results alongside modelled downhole electromagnetic plates suggest mineralisation there extends at depth and down plunge, with very high conductivity in the EM plates highlighting the potential to intersect a high-grade channel, a key focus for follow-up diamond drilling.
“NickelSearch is proud to have a project of the calibre of Carlingup, which allows an exploration strategy focused on testing high priority regional targets to identify sources of high-grade nickel sulphides, to complement an existing resource base which is on the pathway to nickel production,” the explorer said.
This article was developed in collaboration with NickelSearch, 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.