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Ardea begins probe for new nickel sulphide concept

May 29, 2023

Ardea Resources is testing for a new nickel sulphide concept at its Highway project in Western Australia’s Goldfields region through a subsidised diamond drillhole into the komatiite unit of the Walter Williams Formation (WWF) that typically hosts the nickel laterite mineralisation.

If successful, the company believes it could add to the existing nickel-cobalt-scandium laterite resources within its Goongarrie Hub tenements.

The hole, planned to 500m depth and being currently drilled, is targeting the western basal contact of the WWF. It is partly funded by the Geological Survey of Western Australia’s Exploration Incentive Scheme to the tune of $112,500.

Management says it has been designed to test the concept of prospective nickel sulphide fertility, which has been highlighted in collaborative research between the company and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The nickel sulphide saturation zones have low ruthenium signatures in chromite, in addition to nickel and copper depletion in olivine – both abundant minerals occurring within the komatiite formation.

Ardea says further research by a consultant geologist also identified traces of pentlandite, which is a nickel-rich sulphide, in rock chips from previous diamond holes along strike and proximal to the contact.

The new test hole is designed to penetrate below the basal contact of the WWF to investigate the potential for hydrothermal alteration systems associated with alkaline felsic intrusives. Where such intrusives have been encountered in shallow nickel laterite drilling, they have altered to a sepiolite-rich white clay that has a distinct cobalt-manganese-copper signature.

Once the work is completed, the company says the hole will be cased and a downhole electromagnetic survey will be conducted to elucidate the nature of the mineralisation.

The WWF weathers to a nickel laterite and hosts Ardea’s Kalgoorlie nickel Project of 854 million tonnes at 0.71 percent nickel and 0.045 percent cobalt for 6.1 million tonnes of contained nickel and 0.386 million tonnes of contained cobalt. Research, both historic and recent, suggests that previously overlooked nickel sulphide mineralisation may occur in fresh rock deeper within the WWF.

A nickel sulphide target has been defined on the western edge of Ardea’s Highway laterite deposit and with funding support from Geological Survey of Western Australia’s Exploration Incentive Scheme, drilling has commenced. Any discovery success would open a new search space for which Ardea has first mover advantage.

The company also has advanced-stage exploration proceeding at other nickel sulphide targets such as Emu Lake, in addition to assessing the potential for critical minerals and rare earths. It says its exploration diversity complements its Kalgoorlie nickel project (KNP) green development strategy.

Last month, Ardea completed a prefeasibility study (PFS) on its 100 per cent-owned KNP Goongarrie Hub, located 70km north-west of Kalgoorlie. The PFS was based on an ore reserve of 194.1 million tonnes of contained nickel and 99,000 tonnes of contained cobalt using low-cost open-pit mining methods and projected production of about 30,000 tonnes of nickel and 2000 tonnes of cobalt a year. It forecast at least a 40 year mine-life with a payback within 3.1 years.

With its impressive figures and financials, Ardea is proceeding with a definitive feasibility study (DFS) to advance its world-class asset towards decades-long production. Any new resources, such as a nickel sulphides, at the Goongarrie Hub would only make the company’s case more compelling.

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