THE CONFERENCE CALLER: Emerging Latin American base metals player Centaurus Metals (ASX: CTM) couldn’t have finished 2020 on a better note after drilling one of the best ever holes at its Jaguar nickel suphide project in northern Brazil. By Mark Fraser
During the second half of December the company announced the drill rig had returned a robust 30.8 metres at 3.3% nickel, 0.22% copper and 0.06% cobalt from a depth of 180.7m at its Jaguar Central deposit, which has become a key element in the strong and early economics underpinning the project’s proposed development.
So far Centaurus has established a JORC-compliant mineral resource estimate at Jaguar of 48 million tonnes grading 1.08% nickel for 517,500t of contained nickel – including 7.4 million tonnes at 1.13% nickel for more than 80,000t of contained nickel for Jaguar Central.
Meanwhile, a high grade resource of 20.6 million tonnes at 1.56% nickel for 321,400t of contained nickel includes a near-surface component at Jaguar Central of 4.1 million tonnes at 1.44% nickel for around 60,000t of contained nickel.
According to the company, the latest step-out hole was targeting a 30m zone of semi-massive to massive nickel sulphides. The above-mentioned 30.8m intercept – which included 12m at 2.31% nickel, 0.21% copper and 0.05% cobalt from 180.7m as well as 12.1m at 5.38% nickel, 0.31% copper and 0.09% cobalt (from 195.3m) – confirmed there were down-dip extensions to the high-grade nickel mineralisation shoot at Jaguar Central, which is now over 500m long and remains open at depth and along strike.
Further evidence that this demonstrated “the significant growth potential and upside at the deposit” was then provided when another step-out hole located 100m east intersected the top of the high grade shoot, returning 11m at 0.76% nickel, 0.03% copper and 0.02% cobalt (from 127m) and 20.2m at 1% nickel, 0.04% copper and 0.03% cobalt (from 153.3m).
In addition, Centaurus said, recent infill, extensional and step out drilling at Jaguar South also yielded consistent thick and shallow nickel sulphide intersections, including 20m at 1.4% nickel, 0.05% copper and 0.02% cobalt (from 161m) – with 4.7m at 2.18% nickel, 0.1% copper and 0.05% cobalt (from 161m) in addition to 4.2m at 3.42% nickel, 0.08% copper and 0.09% cobalt (from 172m) – as well as 17.2m at 1.19% nickel, 0.03% copper and 0.03% cobalt (from 162.6m), 11m at 1.21% nickel, 0.07% copper and 0.03% cobalt (from 89m), 9.6m at 1.04% nickel, 0.03% copper and 0.02% cobalt (from 81.5m) and 26.6m at 0.65% nickel, 0.02% copper and 0.01% cobalt (from 168.5m).
While encouraged by all of this good news, Centaurus’ managing director Darren Gordon said the 30.8m diamond hole intercept announced just before Christmas was, for the time being, the second-best nickel sulphide intersection drilled across the entire Jaguar project.
And while it “couldn’t quite pip” an earlier hole at Jaguar South which returned 34m at 3.31% nickel, it nevertheless was “another clear demonstration of the potential of this project to deliver thick zones of semi-massive to massive high-tenor nickel sulphides”.
“Importantly, this hole and other recent step-out holes are located well beyond the current mineral resource boundary, demonstrating the exceptional growth potential and upside the Jaguar project still has to offer as we continue to step out and drill deeper holes across the project area,” Gordon noted.
“Our recent drilling has confirmed the continuity of thick high-grade mineralisation at depth at Jaguar Central, with the growth of the deposit in this area having the potential to either drive down the depth of any future open pit or facilitate a quality start-up option for a future underground operation.
“Our recent drilling has also further enhanced our growing understanding of the potential economics of the Jaguar Central deposit. The in-fill and step-out drilling at Jaguar South is also going very well with results demonstrating the consistency of the mineralisation both along strike and down-dip.
“These results are all expected to contribute to an excellent outcome for the JORC mineral resource estimate upgrade planned for early in the first quarter of 2021.”
Located on the western side of the well-established Carajás Mineral Province in the Pará state of Brazil, Jaguar was discovered by Vale in 2007. Centaurus acquired the project in 2019 with over 55,000m of drilling already completed along with baseline metallurgical studies.
The company’s tenure in the region is over 100 square km incorporating Jaguar, which spans over a prospective strike of about 7 km.
The project sits on low population density farmland with only four key landowners.
The Pará state is a mining friendly jurisdiction and the Carajás region has established transport routes to port (road and rail), power infrastructure, a skilled mining workforce and access to key mining services.
A high voltage power substation is located at Vale’s Onça-Puma ferronickel plant 15 km to the north. Water is readily available in the area. Meanwhile, rail is accessible from the iron ore hub of Parauapebas.
Initial metallurgical testwork shows potential for around 82% nickel recoveries producing a 16% nickel concentrate for the Jaguar South and Onça Preta deposits.
Centaurus is aiming to generate a single flowsheet for all mineralised material to provide flexibility in co-treating ores from various deposits in the project.
More on the company’s progress will be provided at this year’s RIU Explorers Conference in Fremantle during February.