THE INSIDE STORY: Earlier this year, Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) caught the market’s attention by releasing an announcement containing a phrase almost extinct to the industry lexicon, ‘Successful Raising’.
Another outrageous aspect of the announcement was the amount raised – just over $7.1 million – which again was something to give industry watchers something to talk about.
To give the raising just that extra element of consequence it received great support from two of the company’s contractors, in mining and civil construction company MACA Ltd (ASX: MLD), which took up a 13.51 per cent holding and Perth-based engineering, consulting and contracting company GR Engineering Services Limited (ASX.GNG), which stumped up to take a 6.76 per cent interest.
“In this market to get that quantum of capital raising away was a great result for us,” Cassini Resources managing director Richard Bevan told The Resources Roadhouse.
“To have MACA Mining and GR Engineering come onto the share register as cornerstone investors is a good endorsement of the project.
“They are both leaders in their respective fields of expertise and in terms of being able to leverage off their experience as we move through the process is a positive.
“It’s always good to be able to tell the market the Board has a healthy stake in a company, but for the mining contracting companies to have a healthy amount of ‘skin in the game’ is also a ringing endorsement of what a company is trying to achieve.”
Since trumping a number of rivals for the 100 per cent acquisition of the West Musgrave project from BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) in 2014, Cassini has been a regular blip on the ‘what are they up to now?’ radar screens of resource analysts.
The reason for this is simple: the company has a potentially world-class project, located in a relatively underexplored region of Western Australia, which is prospective for nickel-copper-PGE sulphide deposits.
The project’s main prospect is the Nebo‐Babel prospect, which was discovered in 2000.
Now that is important – not just the discovery itself, but when it was made, some 15 years ago – 12 years before Cassini even listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Anybody with an elementary grasp of mathematics will be able to work out Cassini was not the company that made the initial discovery, which means it was not able to enjoy similar heady celebrations experienced by Sirius Resources (ASX: SIR) when it made its Fraser Range reference point discovery of the Nova deposit.
What Cassini has been able to celebrate, however, is that as a junior exploration play it did not need to spend the greater-than $100 million dollars that was spent by previous owners making the discovery and bringing the project to the much-closer-to-development stage it is currently at.
Cassini has been doing as much as it can to rapidly advance the project, which has culminated in the establishment of a Mineral Resource estimate for Nebo-Babel of 203 million tonnes at 0.41 per cent nickel and 0.42 per cent copper ((0.3% nickel cut-off grade) containing 832,000 tonnes of nickel and 853,000 tonnes of copper, with a healthy portion of the in-pit Resource sitting in the Indicated category.
The earlier exploration programs of the major focussed on development of a large scale, low grade open pit mining operation, but Cassini is targeting a lower tonnage, higher grade operation.
This development model requires significantly lower capital expenditure, which the company considers should be capable of being delivered in a shorter timeframe.
Cassini says this strategy is supported by Nebo-Babel being situated close to surface as a flat, shallow dipping ore body, with higher-grade nickel mineralisation sitting at the top of the ore body, which enables low strip open pit mining and copper by-product credits.
A recent Scoping Study looking at the potential development of the Nebo-Babel nickel-copper deposits considered two preferred scenarios.
These were either moving straight to production of four million tonnes per annum (4Mtpa Case) or kicking off at 1.5 million tonnes per annum ramping up to 4Mtpa (Stage Case).
The favourable Nebo-Babel geometry provides for low strip open pit mining and significant by-product credits (copper) help costs.
The study assumed an initial mine life of 15 years with the Stage Case estimated pre-production capital costs of $319.4 million for the start-up production upgrading to 4tpa, for an additional $201.6 million, funded through forecast cashflows.
The 4Mtpa Case has estimated capital costs of $521 million, including a contingency of nearly $90 million.
Cassini has also made considerable progress at the greenfield copper project, Succoth, located just 13 kilometres north-east of Nebo-Babel, where the company believes a mine development opportunity exists in conjunction with Nebo-Babel via shared processing and mine infrastructure.
The Succoth ore body is also low-lying – around 20 metres depth – and has been confirmed by drilling carried out by Cassini to have potential to become a very large copper and PGE resource.
Advancing the Succoth deposit was given a boost with Cassini being a successful applicant in the latest round of the co-funded drilling Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) of the WA government.
Investigative geological interpretation work carried out at Succoth has identified the potential for a nickel-rich sulphide body to exist at depth, beyond its already documented potential to be a large, bulk tonnage, mostly disseminated copper mineralisation open pit deposit.
Cassini has constructed a new Succoth geological model, which suggests the existing disseminated copper mineralisation may be associated with a nickel-rich magmatic sulphide system.
This theory gained legs after some narrow zones of massive and matrix nickel sulphides were encountered by previous drilling, which included:
0.46m at 1.76 per cent nickel, 0.16 per cent copper from 225.8m; and
0.6m at 1.39 per cent nickel, 0.95 per cent copper from 227.7m.
These nickel zones have not been followed up at depth
The Succoth story gained momentum after Cassini identified a new conductor (400m by 100m) when examining reprocessed down-hole EM data sourced from two historical holes, WMN4075 and WMN4139.
The top of the plate has been modelled at 475m below surface with a closest intercept in WMN4075 of 36m at 0.96 per cent copper, which the company has outlined to be separate from the actual conductor.
Of great interest to the company is the knowledge it has not been subjected to previous drilling.
The anticipation for success for the new anomaly lies in its location below a zone of disseminated copper mineralisation where it follows a trend of other EM conductors within the Succoth mineralised envelope, plunging moderately to the southeast, where it remains open at depth.
As a greenfield find, the anomaly has provided Cassini with another dimension, moving it from a development story to being a dual-strategy company as it works to develop the West Musgrave project while also concentrating on the exploration upside the project possesses.
“Exploration potential is something investors look at companies such as ours, and we have that potential in spades – if you’ll pardon the pun,” Bevan said.
“Most importantly that potential exists within our current project area.
“Part of the legacy we inherited from the BHP Billiton days was around a dozen exploration targets with known mineralisation.
“Succoth is one such target, along with around six to eight others, which have all produced potentially economic grade intercepts of nickel and copper, all located within ten kilometres of Nebo-Babel.”
Cassini Resources Limited (CZI)
…The Short Story
10 Richardson Street
West Perth WA 6005
Phone: +61 8 6164 8900
Fax: +61 8 6164 8999
DIRECTORS and MANAGEMENT
Mike Young, Richard Bevan, Dr Jon Hronsky, Phil Warren, Greg Miles
MACA Limited 13.51%
GR Engineering Services Limited 6.76%