Artemis Resources (ASX: ARV) has gained the green light to kick off a drilling campaign at its wholly-owned Radio Hill nickel, cobalt and copper mine in the Pilbara region.
The Western Australian Government’s Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety granted approval yesterday for the drilling program which aims to identify new nickel, cobalt and copper mineralisation that can be mined via an open pit operation.
Situated 25km from Karratha and 400m from the Radio Hill plant, the deposit was previously mined in 1985, however the mineralisation is mostly untouched from near surface to 70m deep.
A drill rig will be on site by 10 January to begin an 81-hole program to work up a JORC-compliant measured and indicated resource.
“The Radio Hill plant was specifically designed to treat Radio Hill ore, and apart from the stockpiles that already exist at surface, the top of the Radio Hill nickel, copper and cobalt area remains principally untouched,” Artemis executive chairman David Lenigas said.
Artemis plans to complete the program within 40 days and have pit designs and optimisation studies finished prior to commissioning in mid-2018.
In the mid-1980s, AGIP carried out small trial open pit mining at the site, with minimum tonnages removed from the surface to about 70m deep. The trial was predominantly to understand the metallurgy.
“We are expecting to find primary massive sulphide, stringer and disseminated mineralisation almost to surface and will be drilling to the top of the system to define an open pit to a depth of 70 metres,” Mr Lenigas said.
“With commodity prices now at recent highs (nickel A$15,000 per tonne, copper A$9,000 per tonne and cobalt A$100,000 per tonne) we plant to have the open pit resourced, designed and costed well in advance of the Radio Hill plant’s recommissioning in June 2018,” he added.
In early December, Artemis secured the A$6 million loan to upgrade the Radio Hill plant, with work beginning in November.
The plant upgrade includes a 500,000 tonne per annum gold gravity circuit to process ore from Artemis’ gold projects in the region. The is in addition to the 500,000tpa capacity to treat nearby nickel, cobalt, copper and gold ore. The upgrades and refurbishment at Radio Hill will push the plant’s processing capacity to more than 1mtpa.
Since mid-2017, Artemis has been a popular name in WA’s Pilbara after triggering a gold rush in the area with its joint venture partner Novo Resources (TSXV: NVO) after the duo reported numerous gold nugget discoveries at their projects in the region.
Only last Friday, Artemis reported Novo had received its first assays from bulk sampling at the Purdy’s Reward project with gold grading up to 17.7 grams per tonne. The results confirmed the continuity of the conglomerate-style gold sequence.
By early afternoon trade, Artemis’ share price had risen almost 6% to sit at A$0.27.