‘Nova-Bollinger-style’ at surface: why persistence could pay for Conico in Greenland
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When drills hit the ground at Conico’s Ryberg magmatic sulphide project on the east coast of Greenland in June, it will be a milestone 13 years in the making.
It was 2008 when Conico (ASX:CNJ) chief executive officer Thomas Abraham-James first came across the project area which would become Ryberg, shortly after his spontaneous promotion to the role of exploration manager at an ASX-listed company.
“I was thrown in the deep end,” Abraham-James told Stockhead.
“The former project manager resigned, and I was promoted. With about three months’ notice I had to plan an entire Greenland field season including exploration and infill drilling.
“It was a sink or swim event, and when I got across to Greenland I absolutely fell in love with it.”
Part of that program, largely focused on the company’s pre-existing project in the area, was a regional exploration campaign which assessed ground within a 150km radius.
It was during this work that Abraham-James came across magmatic sulphides at surface – at what would become the Ryberg project – with copper dominated ground first up followed by nickel dominated magmatic sulphides further along.
“We were following these things by foot, but we found that they extended for in excess of 50km,” he said.
“It was obviously quite compelling. Then we found some electromagnetic data from a previous explorer who had been there and got our hands on the raw data.
“The report written at the time said there were no anomalies generated and nothing terribly of interest which I found hard to believe given there was so much mineralisation at surface.
“I had the data reinterpreted by a geophysicist friend of mine, and sure enough, it came back as what was effectively noise.”
As it turned out, the contractor engaged by the project’s past owner had failed to set up its equipment properly and reported on data which didn’t make sense.
“It’s the equivalent of having your radio playing static instead of songs – they didn’t have their equipment tuned in right,” Abraham-James said.
With the contractor’s error seemingly confirmed and Abraham-James’ previous employer focused on its core Greenland asset, he made the decision to pursue the project on his own.
When the ground became available in 2016, Abraham-James founded the private company Longland Resources and snapped it up.
“We did a bit of work in 2017, some of our own electromagnetics, and hey presto – big anomalies came up as I thought would be there,” he said.
“With that, and the knowledge we had of the geology of the area, we increased the licence area from 300sqkm to 4500sqkm, and took out the entire area of interest.”
Last year Conico came calling and snapped up Longland. In 2021, some 12 years after it was first stumbled upon, Ryberg will finally be drilled for the first time.
The potential of Ryberg is significant – the mineralisation is likened to that of the famous, large scale magmatic sulphide Nova-Bollinger deposit in WA’s south west.
The project is prospective for copper-nickel-cobalt-palladium-gold. The important difference here is that the mineralisation starts at surface.
“You can actually see it at surface, there’s no soil profile or anything obscuring it,” Abraham-James said.
“Rather than having to do aircore drill programs to identify the rock types, they’re actually staring up at you.
“You don’t see any chemical weathering, the mineralisation at surface is representative of what you might see at depth when it comes to grade.”
It’s a project of huge potential, and while its location on the east coast of Greenland away from any major population centres could be seen as a negative, its proximity to neighbouring Iceland mitigates this effect.
“It’s the closest point of Greenland to Iceland, and we stage everything out of Reykjavik, which logistically makes it a lot more simple,” Abraham-James said.
“All our gear, transportation and personnel comes out of Iceland and straight to Ryberg by chartered ship or aircraft to an airstrip onsite.
“Travel time is short. It takes less than two hours by air, and less than two days by ship.”
Three rigs arrive for the start of the exploration season in late June, and will make the most of the season’s eternal sunshine by operating to a 24 hour, six day a week schedule through to the end of September.
They will focus on existing EM targets which have been identified by two surveys. Ryberg is not the only project to get Conico’s attention.
A new piece of geology identified off Ryberg’s magmatic sulphides, known as the Sortekap project, has also been identified.
“That’s an archean greenstone project which had never been mentioned in any maps before,” Abraham-James said.
“In sampling the greenstone we found quartz veins, and those quartz veins all came back with gold in them. It’s a very classical style of lode gold deposit we’re looking at, which was a pleasant surprise – it just goes to show how little work has been done on the east coast of Greenland by previous explorers.”
A third project, Mestersvig, is the only brownfields mine on the east coast of Greenland. A historic zinc-lead mine, Conico is interested in the project’s rare earths potential.
“We’ll be going in with a field team to assess the rare earths potential, as well as the potential for magmatic sulphides,” Abraham-James said.
That work is expected later in the year, subject to Covid restrictions lifting at a nearby airport.
But Ryberg is the priority, and when the rigs hit the ground mid-year it’ll be the realisation of a vision long held and a test of potential previously missed.
“There’s been a bit of tenacity involved with this one, but it’s nice to see my colleagues at Conico can see what I see,” Abraham-James said.
“We’ve had the data verified by multiple independent experts. This moment drilling, it’s been a long time coming, and personally it’s incredibly satisfying.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Conico, 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.