Auroch acquired the Saints and Leinster nickel projects just over 12 months ago and immediately put its in-house nickel exploration technical expertise to work, prioritising a pipeline of prospective targets to systematically drill test and advance the projects in the mining-friendly jurisdiction.
At Saints, the company is looking to expand the existing 1.05 million tonne resource grading 2% nickel and 0.2% copper, where the feeder system is yet to be found. At Leinster, Auroch is aiming to update the historical resource at Horn, plus delineate the exciting Valdez prospect.
The company has also this week increased its tenement package on the highly prospective Norseman-Wiluna Greenstone Belt, signing a binding agreement to acquire up to 70% of four more tenements.
One is contiguous to Horn and contains the Firefly prospect, where Auroch has already identified drill-ready targets.
Previous RAB drilling intersections at Firefly had revealed elevated nickel and copper results, which were never followed up with deeper drilling, and the overall 217sq.km tenement package also offered gold potential, Auroch said.
With a growing number of quality drill targets, managing director Aidan Platel said Auroch was looking forward to ramping up its exploration programmes even further.
The company had A$3.4 million cash at June 30 after completing an oversubscribed placement and is one of very few nickel sulphide explorers listed on the ASX.
"Auroch is the only one that has existing high-grade resources, as well as multiple advanced (drill-ready) targets, each of which has the potential to host significant massive nickel sulphide mineralisation," he told RESOURCEStocks.
"People understand that nickel has a strong future, both in the traditional markets like stainless steel and in the coming electric vehicle market.
"Investors looking for a quality high-grade nickel sulphide story are recognising that we have existing resources and a fantastic pipeline of highly-potential exploration targets, all within a stable jurisdiction with existing infrastructure and processing capabilities."
‘Best place' to look
Platel described the Norseman-Wiluna Greenstone Belt as "the best place globally" to be exploring for Kambalda-style nickel deposits, and home to plenty of existing processing options such as Mt Keith, Leinster, Sinclair, Black Swan and Kambalda.
The company has a solid foundation at Saints, where a resource increase could add material value for shareholders in line with the market cap/contained nickel multiples of other high-grade nickel sulphide peers.
The project has an existing off-take with BHP and is only 7km from the Goldfields Highway, Platel explained.
"The fresh primary nickel sulphides start from only 40m below the surface - it really does present a relatively straightforward development and mining scenario," he said.
"The existing resource is one of the highest-grade resources on the ASX and represents a viable development and mining opportunity in the future in its own right."
He said there was scope to step out the drilling and grow the resource incrementally.
"However what really attracts Auroch is that the main ‘feeder' channel mineralisation to the Saints system is yet to be found, which in reality has the potential to double the existing resource very quickly, and hence this is the current focus of our exploration efforts and drilling at Saints," he said.
Highlights from Auroch's maiden drilling at Saints in October 2019 had included 1.77m at 6.72% nickel, 0.27% copper and 0.13% cobalt, including 0.5m at 9.98% nickel, 0.24% copper and 0.2% cobalt.
The infill intersection at the Saint Patricks target not only confirmed the continuity of the high-grade nickel sulphide mineralisation intersected by WMC drilling in the 1990s, but the nickel grade exceeded all previous intersections, Auroch said at the time.
Also, hole SNDD007 intersected high-grade blebby nickel sulphide mineralisation outside the existing resources, hitting 6.87m at 0.77% nickel and 0.02% copper from 145m, including 1.87m at 1.47% nickel and 0.03% copper.
Auroch's new round of diamond drilling began at Saints last week, targeting a strong down-hole electromagnetic (DHEM) conductor identified by recent RC drilling at the T2 Target.
The programme will also target two additional DHEM conductors on the basal contact of the mineralised Saint Andrews channel, which have never been drilled and were identified by remodelling historical DHEM surveys.
"Many of the historic drill-holes never made it to the all-important basal contact, for a variety of reasons including a large amount of groundwater impeding the progress of RC drilling," Platel said.
"Also, the historic drilling was intersecting thick continuous zones of high-grade massive nickel sulphides in the hanging wall, so continuations of this known mineralisation became the focus rather than possible channel mineralisation on the basal contact."
Leinster the next priority
Drilling activity will then shift north to Leinster and its Horn and Valdez prospects.
Auroch had conducted a detailed review of historical data for Leinster in 2019 and said in December this had confirmed thick high-grade massive nickel sulphide mineralisation.
It has since completed about 4,000m of AC drilling to characterise the ultramafic basal flow and basement contacts.
Pending results, these would be followed up with RC and/or diamond drilling in August, Platel said.
"The Horn contains an existing high-grade nickel sulphide resource with good copper credits, but the resource is not JORC (2012) compliant, so our first steps will be some resource drilling to bring that into JORC (2012) so we can include it in our nickel resources," he said.
"There are many historic DHEM conductors near the known mineralisation that need to be followed up, so there exists a very real possibility of increasing the resource there too.
"Valdez, in contrast, has seen very little historic exploration, but has several very attractive characteristics that make it highly potential for significant nickel sulphide mineralisation."
He said Valdez was situated along strike in the same ultramafic unit which hosted Saracen Mineral Holdings' Waterloo and Amorac nickel sulphide deposits; it had a sequence of magnetic highs along the basal contact; and it had two strong EM conductors coincident with the magnetic highs.
The four new tenements, under farm-in with Jindalee Resources, increase the company's presence in the promising belt.
Platel said all four had great nickel sulphide potential and "walk-up drill targets" to add to the existing pipeline.
"The tenure is in the Eastern Goldfields region and close to some large operating gold mines, so it also has great potential for significant gold mineralisation, which the company will assess as part of our exploration strategy," he said.
Auroch intends to be drilling continuously over the next two to three months, so investors can expect a strong news flow as results emerge.
"As seen recently with Legend Mining and Chalice Gold Mines, we are potentially one drill-hole away from a large revaluation," Platel said.
"With the future of nickel looking good, any investor looking for exposure to nickel would be very hard-pressed to find a better company to invest in!"