A Lengthy Tale of Two Nickel Plays

THE CONFERENCE CALLER: A couple of nickel projects in Western Australia – one containing sulphides and the other made up of lateritic material – look set to see the light of day after some two decades of sitting on the drawing board. By Mark Fraser

Possibly the most advanced is the West Musgrave joint venture between exploration house Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) and miner Oz Minerals (ASX: OZL), where the proponents are looking to develop the Nebo-Babel sulphide deposit – an ore body that caused quite a bit of market excitement when it was initially discovered by Western Mining back in 2000.

Meanwhile, the second is the Kalgoorlie Nickel Project (KNP), which is being developed by Ardea Resources (ASX: ARL) and contains a globally significant nickel and cobalt resource.

Like Nebo-Babel, the KNP has been around for a long time, having initially been established by Heron Resources in light of the WA nickel laterite boom of the late 1990s. Later, between 2005-2009, it was the subject of pre-feasibility due diligence by Vale Inco.

Shortly before the 2020 RIU Explorers conference – at which both juniors presented – Cassini completed its own pre-feasibility study for the West Musgrave project, which is located 100 kilometres north-east of Warburton, wherein a solid case for the mine’s development was made.

The PFS indicated its maiden ore reserve of 220 million tonnes at 0.33 per cent nickel and 0.36 per cent copper for a contained 720,000t of nickel and 790,000t of copper could support a mine life of 26 years – some 18 years more than suggested by scoping due diligence conducted in 2017.

The project scale of 10 million tonnes per annum remained unchanged, with target annual life of mine production set at 22,000tpa of nickel and 28,000tpa of copper concentrates.

Higher concentrate production – 27,000tpa of nickel and 33,000tpa of copper – was forecast for the first five years, which could see a six year project payback period from a decision to mine or around a three year one from the start of production.

According to brokerage Hartleys, the project was significantly de-risked by the detailed metallurgical test work, which delivered base metal recoveries at the upper end of expectations and provided good (industry standard) concentrate grades of around 10-11% nickel and 25-26% copper.

Moreover, the PFS also suggested improved operating costs thanks to increased by-product credits (including cobalt, gold, silver and platinum group metals), the use of hybrid renewable diesel power generation and innovative processing solutions such as the use of vertical roller mills, which reduces power consumption by around 15% and provides an estimated 2% improvement in nickel recoveries.

The large scale, longer life operation has come with a higher capital cost, which is now expected to be $995 million instead of the scoping capex range of $730-800 million.

Under the terms of the JV with Oz Minerals, Cassini is not required to contribute to the project capital costs until the delivery of a bankable feasibility study. As it stands the JV partners are looking to start construction sometime in 2021-22 and operations by 2023.

During the RIU show, Cassini managing director Richard Bevan said while Oz Minerals ran the PFS, the junior partner (30%) did a number of work packages.

“Oz really approached this as an operator of this asset,” he explained.

“They spent in excess of $50 million on the PFS and a number of the work packages are well passed the PFS stage, especially those that represent the potential risks of this project around metallurgy and resources.”

Meanwhile, just north of the mining hub of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Ardea is carrying out its own due diligence on the KNP, which currently contains a resource of 773Mt at 0.7% nickel and 0.05% cobalt for 5.6Mt of contained nickel and 405,000t of contained cobalt.

Within the KNP holdings sits Goongarrie, which has resources of 216Mt at 0.71% nickel and 0.06% copper for 1.5Mt of contained nickel and 130,700t of contained cobalt.

Although the history of nickel laterite projects in WA has been fairly dismal, Ardea is confident it will not fall into the same metallurgical traps as some of its predecessors like BHP (at Ravensthorpe) and Anaconda Nickel (at Murrin Murrin).

During his RIU presentation the company’s chief executive, Andrew Penkethman, pointed out Goongarrie’s ore was goethitic which, he said, was the preferred feedstock for pressure acid leaching circuits.

“It’s a crumbly iron rich material that contains the nickel and cobalt, it has low acid consumption and it can be mined and put through the process plant the same day,” he said.

Other deposits that had excess silica or clay, Penkethman noted, needed to be screened and then dried – in some cases for lengthy periods.





Cassini Resources Discovers New Mineralised Prospect at Yarawindah

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) has been encouraged by early drilling results from the company’s 80 per cent-owned Yarawindah Brook project located northeast of Perth near New Norcia in Western Australia.

Saturn Metals Drills Major Step Out Result at Apollo Hill

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Saturn Metals (ASX: STN) released results from a Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling campaign undertaken at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Apollo Hill gold project in Western Australia.

Lithium Australia Patent Applications Published by WIPO

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia has had two patent applications published by The International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Impact Minerals Identifies Porphyry Copper-Gold Prospects

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Impact Minerals (ASX: IPT) has identified four undrilled priority prospects for porphyry copper-gold deposits at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Commonwealth project in the copper-gold Lachlan Fold Belt in New South Wales.


Cassini Resources Discovers New Mineralised Prospect at Yarawindah

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) has been encouraged by early drilling results from the company’s 80 per cent-owned Yarawindah Brook project located northeast of Perth near New Norcia in Western Australia.

Cassini Resources considers the project to be prospective for nickel, copper, cobalt and PGE’s and is undertaking its first ever drilling at the project, a diamond drilling program targeting multiple electromagnetic conductors identified following an airborne and ground electromagnetic surveys in 2018.

Initial drilling has been carried out on the Brassica prospect, located approximately four kilometres to the southwest of the main Yarawindah prospect, from which the first two holes intersected sequences of more than 50 metres of metagabbro’s containing trace to minor pentlandite and chalcopyrite.

Assay results include promising intercepts of:

1.1 metres at 0.5 per cent nickel, 0.1 per cent copper and 0.08 per cent cobalt from 92.9m; and

0.7m at 0.09 per cent nickel, 1.46 per cent copper and 0.02 per cent cobalt from 71.4m.

“The first two drill holes have both intersected over 50m thick sequences of metagabbro’s which have intruded into and are intercalated with strongly foliated, deformed and locally pyrrhotite- and pyritebearing mafic and felsic country rock gneisses,” Cassini Resources said in its ASX announcement.

“Metagabbro’s contain pyrrhotite and pyrite disseminations throughout and trace pentlandite and chalcopyrite.

“Locally, predominantly pyrrhotite-rich massive sulphides and chalcopyrite-rich veinlets are also present within the metagabbro’s and country rocks.

“Although the mineralisation identified so far is not economic, the company considers these results very encouraging for a completely new target area at a very early stage of exploration.

“The results to date have already demonstrated the project’s potential to host multiple magmatic nickel and copper deposits.”

Cassini has recommenced drilling at Yarawindah following the Christmas-New Year break, with a third hole at Brassica underway.

Following completion of this hole the rig will move to the main Yarawindah prospect to drill the AN01 and AN02 conductors, which are believed to be extensions to previously identified mineralisation.





Cassini Resources Shuffles Boardroom Seating Plan

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) announced the appointment of Ms. Sze Man Suen (Simone) to the Board of the company as a non-executive director.

Simone is a highly credentialed company director with a Bachelor of Business and over 20 years’ experience predominantly in the resources industry in Australia and internationally.

She held the position of executive director between 2010 and 2018 at Alliance Mineral Assets Limited where she procured, mobilised and organised staff and resources for the development, commissioning and operations of the Bald Hill tantalum/lithium project in Western Australia.

In order to manage the size of the board, Greg Miles has resigned from his position as an executive director to be appointed as chief operating officer.

Cassini explained that Miles’ day to day role will not change within the company, as he steers the company’s technical and operations team, working closely with Joint Venture partner OZ Minerals, to deliver a Pre-Feasibility Study at the West Musgrave Project.

“Simone’s appointment to the board of Cassini is perfectly timed ahead of a defining year for the company,” Cassini Resources chairman Mike Young said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“As we prepare for the delivery of the Nebo-Babel Pre-Feasibility Study, Australia’s largest copper-nickel development project, Simone’s experience will broaden the company’s expertise and assist the company transition to the next phase of its life.

“As a substantial shareholder, Simone is strongly aligned with the company’s direction and will assist with developing stronger relationships with a number of Cassini’s key shareholders and extend our reach into new investor markets.”







Pioneer Resources Estimates Initial Inferred Mineral Resource for Cade Spodumene Deposit

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Pioneer Resources (ASX: PIO) declared it has completed sufficient exploration to estimate an initial Inferred Mineral Resource for the Cade spodumene deposit within the company’s 100 per cent-owned Pioneer Dome project in Western Australia.

Calidus Resources Drilling Underpins Open Pit Resource Upgrade

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Calidus Resources (ASX: CAI) reported the final batch of RC drilling results from inside the planned Klondyke pit at the company’s 1.25 million-ounce Warrawoona gold project in Western Australia.

Pantoro Confirms High-Grade Mineralisation at Gladstone-Everlasting

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Pantoro Limited (ASX: PNR) released initial drilling results from the Gladstone-Everlasting deposit (Gladstone) at the company’s 50 per cent-owned Norseman gold project in Western Australia.

Cassini Resources and OZ Minerals Expand WMP Tenure

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) announced an extension to exploration tenure at the West Musgrave Project (WMP), a Joint Venture with OZ Minerals Limited (ASX: OZL) in Western Australia.

Carawine Resources Drilling at Victorian Gold-Copper Project Deposit

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Carawine Resources (ASX: CWX) has commenced diamond drilling at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Jamieson project in northeast Victoria that hosts the Hill 800 and Rhyolite Creek prospects.

Ardea Resources Set to Drill at Mulga Plum Gold Deposit

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Ardea Resources (ASX: ARL) reported that rock chip sampling of old workings spoil and sporadic outcrop at the company’s Mulga Plum gold prospect in Western Australia has confirmed gold mineralisation over an area of at least 200 square metres.


Cassini Resources and OZ Minerals Expand WMP Tenure

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) announced an extension to exploration tenure at the West Musgrave Project (WMP), a Joint Venture with OZ Minerals Limited (ASX: OZL) in Western Australia.

Cassini Resources explained the JV partners are currently undertaking a Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) on the Nebo-Babel deposits in conjunction with a regional exploration program across the WMP.

The new tenement applications, held by Cassini subsidiary Crossbow Resources Pty Ltd, have been accepted into the West Musgrave Project JV, taking the total land position in the West Musgrave Province, once granted, to over 8,000 square kilometres.

Cassini will manage the exploration of the new tenements in conjunction with the regional exploration of the existing tenure.

The new tenements are considered prospective for magmatic nickel and copper sulphide mineralisation similar to the Nebo-Babel deposits currently under evaluation, as well as sediment-hosted (Zambian-style) copper sulphide mineralisation.

“This is an exciting development for the West Musgrave Project which demonstrates the Joint Venture’s long-term commitment to the province,” Cassini Resources managing director Richard Bevan said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“This is one of the last frontiers for greenfield exploration in Australia and some of the areas targeted have never had a single soil sample taken, let alone a drill hole.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for us to leverage our capabilities and knowledge in this under-explored region, where we will potentially have a significant mining operation.

“We are working through the granting process and look forward to getting on the ground in due course.”







Peel Mining Boosts Southern Nights Potential

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Peel Mining (ASX: PEX) has claimed discovery of new zones of mineralisation from an ongoing drilling campaign across the company’s 100 per cent-owned Wagga Tank project, south of Cobar in western New South Wales.

Cassini Resources Advances Mount Squires Gold Project

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) announced final results of recent RC drilling and future work plans at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Mount Squires project in the West Musgrave Province of Western Australia.

Barra Resources Drilling at Burbanks

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Barra Resources (ASX: BAR) has commenced a Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling program at the company’s Burbanks gold project, south of Coolgardie in Western Australia.

Geopacific Resources Raising $45M to Underpin Woodlark Project Development

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Geopacific Resources (ASX: GPR) has completed a $40 million share placement and is subsequently offering a Share Purchase Plan (SPP) to raise up to a further $5 million to eligible shareholders.

PolarX Hits Mineralised Porphyry‐Style Veins at Mars

THE DRILL SERGEANT: PolarX Limited (ASX: PXX) has completed a single diamond drill hole into the Mars porphyry target within the company’s Alaska Range project in Alaska.

Pantoro Encounters Wide High-Grade Intercepts at Rowdies

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Pantoro Limited (ASX: PNR) has drilled high-grade extensions to the north Rowdies lode from results along strike of existing development in the upper levels of the Wagtail Underground Mine, part of the company’s 100 per cent-owned Halls Creek gold project in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.