A reassessment of Jervois Mining‘s (ASX: JRV) 100%-owned flagship Young cobalt-nickel (Nico Young) project in New South Wales has resulted in a resource upgrade, which includes cobalt grading up to 0.12%.
JORC compliant inferred resources for the project now sit at 167.8 million tonnes grading 0.59% nickel and 0.06% cobalt using a 0.6% nickel equivalent cut off.
Using an 0.08% cobalt cut off, the resource includes 33.4 million tonnes grading 0.66% nickel and 0.12% cobalt.
Previous inferred resources were 82 million tonnes grading 0.79% nickel (0.6% cut off) and 0.06% cobalt.
Located in an established mining and farming region, the Nico Young project comprises two exploration licences close to requisite infrastructure including gas, rail and major roads, as well as the Young township, which has a population of 7,000.
Jervois is reviewing historical test work to define further drilling and bulk sampling targets. An infill drilling program at Nico Young has been planned for 2018 and will focus on gaining a better understanding of the nickel-cobalt mineralisation and upgrading inferred resources to indicated status. The program will also target possible extensions to the high-grade cobalt intercepts.
Additionally, the company believes the project could be prospective for scandium with the mineral identified within the project at grades up to 50 parts per million.
As part of its strategy to fast-track Nico Young, Jervois has also kicked-off early environmental activities and landholder negotiations.
During the September quarter, Jervois underwent a comprehensive board and management restructure, which resulted in new leadership appointments including Bryce Crocker as chief executive officer and Michael Rodriguez and Brian Kennedy as non-executive directors.
With Mr Crocker driving the new management team and geological advisers Snowden Mining Industry Consultants and Geostat Services on board, Jervois has been investigating heap leach processing of the Nico Young ore to create battery-grade nickel and cobalt concentrates for manufacturers. This is to target the burgeoning electric car, consumer electronics and sustainable energy markets which require the lithium-ion battery for either primary power or back up.
Although there are various lithium-ion battery formulations available, many of the batteries incorporate high purity nickel and cobalt in the cathode, with the amount of nickel expected to increase eight-fold in some formulations.
In targeting this surging sector, the new Jervois management team has “extensive experience” with high pressure acid leach (HAPL) nickel and cobalt processing plants from construction, commissioning, ramp up and stabilisation of operations.
According to Jervois, it is investigating heap leach processing because it has a lower capital cost and is less energy intensive compared to HPAL processing.
The company has investigated the hydrological and geotechnical properties of cobalt-nickel ore heaps with initial recoveries up to 80%. Jervois points out although the recovery is lower compared to HPAL, given the capital and energy savings it would bring, it is deemed an adequate option.
Jervois shares were up more than 11% at A$0.60 by late afternoon trade.