Metals explorer Australian Mines (ASX: AUZ) has unlocked further resource potential at its flagship Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in Queensland, returning positive results from a recent drilling campaign.
The company recently embarked on a 50,000m resource expansion drilling program at the project, reporting initial assays in September that confirmed thick zones of nickel mineralisation beyond the existing mineral resource.
Following its encouraging results, Australian Mines completed an additional 5000m of drilling at the Greenvale deposit, testing newly-identified mineralised zones and further extending the existing mineralisation footprint. It also completed cobalt-focussed drilling at the Lucknow deposit.
The latest assay results, announced today, further demonstrate that Sconi’s mineralisation is much more extensive than reflected in the current mineral resource, which has been used in the project’s impending bankable feasibility study.
This estimate currently stands at: measured 17 million tonnes at 0.8% nickel and 0.07% cobalt; indicated 48Mt at 0.58% nickel and 0.07% cobalt; and inferred 24Mt at 0.41% nickel and 0.06% cobalt.
Notable cobalt intersections from the latest drilling campaign included 15m at 0.14% cobalt from a depth of 11m and 9m at 0.3% cobalt from 9m.
The best nickel intersections were: 10m at 1.8% nickel from 29m; 20m at 1.13% nickel from 36m; and 14m at 1.03% nickel from 21m.
Australian Mines managing director Benjamin Bell said the results to date point towards an increase in Sconi’s mineral resource for both cobalt and nickel.
“Increasing the project’s mineral resource was our clearly articulated goal from the start of this program and we believe we will be in a strong position, come April 2019, to announce a revised mineral resource estimate for Sconi, followed by an optimised bankable feasibility study for the project shortly thereafter,” Bell said.
He added that any potential upgrade to Sconi’s resource estimate, as a result of the current drilling program, would have a “flow-through effect of enhancing the proposed mine plan and life for the project, as well as delivering overall benefits to any future expansion contemplated”.
The remaining assays from the Lucknow cobalt drilling is due to be received in the current December quarter, Australian Mines reported.
The Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project is located 225km inland from Townsville in northern Queensland.
It is planned to be a fully-integrated chemical processing operation capable of delivering battery-grade cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate to its Korean-based offtake partner SK Innovation for direct application at their global electric vehicle battery manufacturing plants.
In addition to its cobalt and nickel resource, the Sconi project has been estimated to hold a scandium resource of 7.2Mt at 177 grams per tonne of scandium for 1950t of contained scandium oxide.
Last week, Australian Mines announced it has teamed up with Indian research institution Amrita to evaluate the potential of using scandium-magnesium alloys in the next generation nickel metal hybrid batteries, as well as in hydrogen storage.