West Australian explorer, Auroch Minerals has launched an induced polarisation geophysical survey, or “IP survey” targeting ultramafic nickel sulphides at the northern part of its Nepean nickel project. It says the surveying method led to discovery of the historical Nepean nickel sulphide mine, also located at its tenure, in the late 1960s where more than a million tonnes of ore grading close to three per cent nickel was produced in the past.
The ground IP survey will cover 5.1 square kilometres over five northern tenements of the 80 per cent owned Nepean project, located some 25 kilometres south of Coolgardie.
IP surveys are a geophysical method used extensively in mineral exploration to identify the electrical chargeability of subsurface materials such as ore.
Auroch says the survey is being conducted after a detailed review of drill-hole geochemistry brought to light potential for nickel sulphides to be hosted in ultramafic sequences in the area.
Interestingly, the northern part of the tenure sits to the south and directly along strike to the historical Nepean nickel mine which was discovered in the late 1960s by Metals Exploration and was in production from 1970 through to 1987. To the north of the mine lies the Miriam nickel sulphide deposit discovered by Anaconda Australia Limited in the late 1960s.
ASX-listed Corazon Mining holds an option to acquire Miriam where a non-JORC compliant mineralised envelope along 150 metres of strike and to 300m below surface has been defined.
According to Corazon, historical hits at Miriam include an impressive 9.6m intercept at 5.60 per cent nickel, 3.2m at 2.59 per cent nickel and a broad 12.5m hit going 0.56 per cent.
Auroch says the northern part of Nepean has only seen minimal historical drilling.
Curiously, recent petrophysical testing of drill core from close to the Nepean mine revealed that mineralisation from the area provides a good IP response that would be picked up by an IP survey, according to the company.
We are excited to commence a ground IP survey over the northern area of the Nepean Project. Our recent geochemical review of the few drill-holes in this area has shown the ultramafic units there are highly prospective for nickel sulphide mineralisation, whilst petrophysical test work we completed on drill-holes close to the historic Nepean nickel mine has demonstrated that IP is an excellent method to find high-grade matrix to disseminated nickel sulphide mineralisation.
Separately, Auroch is also on the hunt for deeper nickel sulphides at the project with a maiden two-hole diamond drilling program probing the extensions of the ore system below the historical Nepean mine.
The second hole of the campaign is now tantalisingly close to the targeted down-hole electromagnetic conductor lying at 550m depth. Auroch says the drilling is anticipated to pierce the target in the coming days.
The company has identified three high-priority targets at depth through a recently completed first hole from the drilling campaign. It believes the proximity of the historical mine adds weight to the potential for nickel sulphide mineralisation to be hosted in the target condctors.
Pundits will likely be keeping a keen eye on Auroch as its nickel sulphide search at Nepean gathers steam, right at a time when the price of nickel flirts with decade long highs of about US$20,000 per tonne.
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