Auroch Minerals’ first quarter diamond-drilling program has returned four more high-grade massive nickel sulphide results from its Saints nickel project in the world class Norseman-Wiluna Greenstone Belt.
The four assays were made up of three from the St Andrews prospect and one from the St Patricks prospect and build on two earlier sets of results from March that also yielded high-grade nickel and platinum group elements, or PGE mineralisation.
New figures include a single-hole result showing 2.40 metres at 2.10 per cent nickel, 0.14 per cent copper, 0.09 per cent cobalt and 0.36 grams per tonne PGE from 263.78m and a further 2.21m grading 4.30 per cent nickel, 0.37 per cent copper, 0.13 per cent cobalt and 0.58g/t PGE from 268.18m.
A second hole reported 1m going 5.16 per cent nickel, 0.06 per cent copper, 0.09 per cent cobalt and 0.56g/t PGE from 73m.
A borehole sunk into the St Andrews orebody returned strong results, increasing the width of the previously reported, significant intersection. Auroch confirmed 5.12m showing 2.33 per cent nickel, 0.14 per cent copper, 0.06 per cent cobalt and 0.82g/t PGE from 165m and 4.79m grading 2.05 per cent nickel, 0.16 per cent copper, 0.08 per cent cobalt and 0.36g/t PGE from 311m.
The diamond-drill hole at St Patricks yielded 1.62m at 3.92 per cent nickel, 0.42 per cent copper, 0.11 per cent cobalt and 0.70g/t PGE from 217m.
Importantly, Auroch said the results from the drill program will be used to upgrade the Saints mineral resource estimate, or MRE, later this quarter from an inferred resource category to predominantly an indicated resource category. Currently, it puts the Saints MRE at an inferred resources number of 1.02 million tonnes going 2.0 per cent nickel for 21,400t of contained nickel.
Only three drill-hole assays remain outstanding from the testing program across the St Patricks and St Andrews orebodies.
The results from the recent diamond drill programme at Saints continue to confirm the modelled zones of thick high-grade nickel sulphides, which also include significant grades of copper, cobalt and PGEs (Pt & Pd). This bodes well for upgrading the confidence level of the Saints MRE, which we are aiming to do later this quarter once all results have been received from this drill programme.
Platel noted one of the final critical work programs required for the ongoing Saints Scoping Study was the completion of key metallurgical test work by consultants Strategic Metallurgy that was working through the massive nickel sulphide mineralisation samples intersected in the recent program.
The company was looking forward to finalising the study it expects will highlight the significant value of the Saints nickel project.
A little further afield, nickel sulphide testing from the company’s Nepean nickel project has allayed processing concerns, passing metallurgical tests with flying colours, returning a commercial-grade nickel concentrate and achieving nickel recoveries up to 97 per cent. The results come from the shallow high-grade nickel sulphide orebody directly south of the historic Nepean nickel mine, 30km south of Coolgardie, WA.
Auroch said metallurgical results from the lab indicated all samples responded well to conventional froth flotation with rougher recoveries for nickel between 85 and 97 per cent.
According to management, testing achieved saleable concentrate grades of 13 per cent nickel or higher for all three composite samples, albeit at a lower 30 per cent recovery level and is subject to ongoing optimisation test work.
The progress at Auroch’s Australian projects comes at the same time the company is bedding down its 80 per cent acquisition of a lithium project in Nevada that puts its footprint on four under-explored prospect areas in Nye and Esmeralda counties, 45km from Albemarle’s trailblazing Silver Peak mine, the only active lithium mine in the US.
The company said Nevada hosts some very large lithium deposits in a sedimentary-hosted style including ASX-listed Ioneer Resources’ Rhyolite Ridge project and locally-operated TLC Lithium Project, in addition to the Silver Peak mine.
Notably, the Nevada lithium project also lies a strategic 340km from Tesla in Reno, a large buyer of battery metals for its electric vehicle manufacturing process with access to major US ports on the West Coast.
Despite covering the same lacustrine sedimentary formation that hosts other large lithium deposits in the region, such as the TLC deposit, Auroch says its Nevada site has seen very limited lithium-focused exploration to date.
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