Nickel results back Estrella bid to fast-track mining

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Section of the 5A deposit showing current drill hole pierce points.
Camera IconSection of the 5A deposit showing current drill hole pierce points. Credit: File

Estrella Resources says high-grade results from resource confirmation drilling at its Spargoville nickel project near Kambalda in WA highlight its best hope of transitioning to a producer in the near term.

First assays from a hole drilled at the company’s 5A resource returned a 3.4m intersection recording 8.2 per cent nickel, 0.6 per cent copper, 0.2 per cent cobalt and 21.5 per cent sulphur from 65.16m.

The intersection contains a 2.66m section going 10.34 per cent nickel, 0.79 per cent copper, 2195 parts-per-million cobalt and 27.1 per cent sulphur from 65.64m.

Visual high-grade mineralisation intercepts from the latest exploration have been described by the company as containing transitional massive nickel sulphides.

Management believes the assays are highly encouraging with further results expected to support Estrella’s decision to fast-track mining at the 5A site.

An additional shallower oxide zone was also identified to the east of the main basal contact from the drilling program with a 5m section going 1.5 per cent nickel from 47m.

Estrella says the new zone will be sampled in all drill holes and if the oxide material meets a reasonable grade, it may be included in the 5A resource.

The company acquired the Spargoville nickel sulphide project in late 2017 when it purchased WA Nickel, with planning ongoing for an open pit cutback at 5A.

Management says the expansion of the 5A nickel mine is envisaged as an 80m deep cutback of the existing open pit that is currently 30m deep.

The high grade of the massive sulphide is exceptional and is common in this type of nickel system, typical of Kambalda style komatiites.

Estrella Resources Managing Director, Chris Daws

The region’s metals potential was first discovered by Selcast Exploration when the miner identified nickel sulphides in the late 1960s. Since then, the 1A, 5A, 5B and 5D deposits have been identified.

A 2018 drill campaign at the 5A deposit highlighted remarkable results including a 15m section at 10.45 per cent nickel, 0.78 per cent copper, 0.20 per cent cobalt and 1.15 grams per tonne palladium from 20m.

Another hole delivered a 5m interval running 11.32 per cent nickel, 0.54 per cent copper, 0.21 per cent cobalt, 0.42 grams per tonne palladium and 0.22 g/t palladium from 61m.

Estrella has also received approval to obtain a bulk metallurgical sample for treatment at a processing facility by a third party.

Previous testing indicates transitional material is suitable for extraction by non-traditional methods.

The sample will be between 2000 and 4000 tonnes with results expected to give the company further confidence to commit to mining and processing at the 5A deposit.

It would appear that for Estrella all roads are leading to a destination that many desire, however few reach — producer.

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