Junior explorer Centaurus Metals (ASX: CTM) has announced an initial exploration target at its Itapitanga nickel-cobalt project in northern Brazil following consistent high-grade drilling results since April.
The company has estimated a target of up to 45 million tonnes at 0.80% to 1.10% nickel and 0.07% to 0.12% cobalt, for between 280,000 and 495,000 tonnes nickel and 24,500 to 54,000t cobalt.
The estimate confirms the scale and potential of Itapitanga and is based on a shallow mineralisation commencing from surface and extending to a maximum vertical depth of 40 metres.
It is supported by multiple high‐grade drill holes from a 5,000m reverse circulation program which kicked off in April to test for deeper extensions of widespread nickel-cobalt mineralisation intersected in a hand-held auger campaign earlier in the year.
Better results from those drill holes included 10m grading 1.03% nickel and 0.21% cobalt from surface and 13m grading 1.08% nickel and 0.17% cobalt from 2m.
Other results were 18m at 1.05% nickel and 0.11% cobalt from surface and 20m at 0.98% nickel and 0.11% cobalt from 2m.
The initial phase of drilling at Itapitanga has now been completed and the RC rig will be mobilised to Centaurus’ Pebas copper-gold project, also in northern Brazil, for a drilling program scheduled for later this month.
Itapitanga is located 15 kilometres from the giant Jacaré nickel‐cobalt discovery owned by Anglo American (LSE: AAL) and along strike from several unpublished nickel‐cobalt resources held by Brazilian multinational Vale.
Jacaré is one of the highest grade, large‐tonnage nickel‐cobalt deposits in the world, hosting a global mineral resource of 307Mt at 1.3% nickel and 0.13% cobalt, including a high‐grade cobalt resource of 185Mt at 1.2% nickel and 0.18% cobalt.
Itapitanga is believed to be a direct extension of the geological complex that hosts Jacaré and Centaurus geologists have confirmed the presence of the same nickel-cobalt mineralisation at surface and at multiple locations over a 4.5km strike length.
Multiple leaching options
Preliminary metallurgical tests on ferruginous laterite samples from the Northern Target at Itapitanga have been conducted to determine the ore’s suitability for atmospheric acid leach and high-pressure acid leach processing.
The tests showed “outstanding results” with HPAL delivering the highest scandium grade at 99% while atmospheric leaching extracted up to 99% nickel and 99% cobalt.
The results prove Itapitanga material is amenable to multiple leaching techniques and provides Centaurus with flexibility when designing the project’s processing route.
At mid-afternoon, shares in Centaurus Metals were up 12.5% to A$0.009.