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Caeneus etches out Pilbara battery metals orebody

Caeneus Minerals has taken stock of the final assay results from its maiden RC drilling program at the Highway prospect at its Pardoo battery metals project in WA’s Pilbara province.

The company is etching out a thick, shallow nickel-copper-cobalt deposit, with the latest assays returning 94m grading at 0.43 per cent nickel from only 35m that includes an internal core of 26m going at 0.82 per cent nickel from 94m containing a high-grade metre tipping the scales at 1.95 per cent nickel. The same hole contained 115m grading 0.16 per cent copper and 0.04 per cent cobalt from 35m.

Other notable intercepts include 64m grading at 0.36 per cent nickel from 61m with the same hole containing 86m returning 0.16 per cent copper from 38m.

The final assays have fed into the evolving geological model of the poly-metallic Highway prospect, where the company says it is gaining a greater understanding of the geochemical and structural controls on mineralisation.

Interestingly, Caeneus has identified higher grade copper mineralisation within the metasediment footwall, independent to the primary nickel-cobalt-copper-palladium mineralisation that is observed within the layered hanging wall schist and provides a further valuable target.

Drilling completed by Caeneus has mapped 900m of nickel strike and 1.25km of cobalt mineralisation to depths of about 200m, with mineralisation remaining open along strike and at depth.

With the first round of drilling complete, Caeneus says it has engaged Perth-based Strategic Metallurgy to commence test work on a representative sample of fresh sulphide mineralisation to determine feed characteristics and the flotation response, base metal and PGE recoveries.

According to the company, the work will support the ongoing development and further assessment of the project, with results expected in September.

The occurrence of thick mineralisation definitely warrants further exploration. We aim to fast-track the project through aggressively embarking on future drilling and kicking off metallurgical work immediately. We remain confident that we can build a maiden resource.

A total of 14 holes were punched in the Highway prospect during the April drilling program, designed to follow up a series of interesting hits intersected by exploration juggernauts CRA Exploration, now Rio Tinto, in the early 1990s. With the nickel price languishing at about US$2500 per tonne at the time, an intercept of 89m at a paltry 0.37 per cent nickel barely raised an eyebrow.

Prior to Caeneus picking up the tenure, Mithril Resources and joint venture partner Segue Resources outlined an 800m long by 75m wide disseminated and semi-massive nickel copper sulphide mineralisaton system between 2007 and 2009. In 2007 nickel prices hit a high of US$50,000 per tonne, before falling back down below US$10,000 in early 2009.

In 2022, a global push towards net-zero carbon emissions is giving the burgeoning electric vehicle industry a shot in the arm with the demand for battery metals, including nickel and copper, on the rise. With the strengthening base metal prices, some of the historical intercepts begin to look a little more interesting.

Whilst the grades of the battery metals are not standouts, it is the thick, shallow and widespread strike length that has Caeneus excited.

According to the company, the ground contiguous to Caeneus’ Pardoo tenements has analogous geological characteristics similar to other Pilbara-based nickel-copper hotspots such as ASX-listed Artemis Resources’ Radio Hill that boasts an existing nickel-copper sulphide resource of 4.02Mt at 0.51 per cent nickel and 0.88 per cent copper.

With its advanced understanding of controls on mineralisation at the Highway prospect, Caeneus are chomping at the bit to resume drilling to unravel the full extents of the poly-metallic orebody. The company has planned an additional 5000m of RC drilling set to commence in August, pending regulatory approvals. Results from the upcoming drilling will feed into a maiden JORC 2012 mineral resource estimation.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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