Official figures show Creasy’s WA nickel-copper find could provide needed feed for hungry Independence

Barry FitzGerald

A usually-overlooked departmental document has lifted the lid on the size of Mark Creasy’s base metals find in WA – and it is fuelling speculation that Independence Group will be keen to gets its hands on it. And speaking of discoveries, there is growing interest in Great Boulder’s drilling campaign.

The public mineralisation report for Australia’s newest nickel-copper-cobalt discovery – Mark Creasy’s privately held Silver Knight find in the Fraser Range – has finally surfaced.

It confirms a sizeable find in its early stages, with obvious implications for Independence Group (IGO), owned 16% by Creasy, which is now a little bit light on mine life 25km down the track at its Nova-Bollinger nickel-copper-cobalt mine after its recent resources restatement.

The public report on Silver Knight – the grey horse of the same name won the 1971 Melbourne Cup and sired the 1984 winner Black Knight – puts the current JORC resource at 4.2m/t grading 0.8% nickel, 0.6% copper and 0.04% cobalt, including a higher grade 200,000/t grading 3% nickel, 1.9% copper and 0.17% cobalt.

The discovery will be the subject of a second phase of RC drilling as well as a diamond program which will test conductors below the current resource.

The overall grade doesn’t match Nova’s but nevertheless the thing looks to be economic, which is why Creasy is applying for a mining lease, the process which has made the discovery public.

Silver Knight could be a handy life-extender for IGO’s Nova on the basis it is down to 13.1m/t of material and planning an increased mining rate of 1.8mtpa. Looks like there is a deal to be done.

Confirmation that Silver Knight is good for 33,000t of nickel, 26,000t of copper, and 1,700t of cobalt early in its exploration history doesn’t hurt sentiment in the broader exploration space either. A nice lead up to next week’s Diggers & Dealers.

Great Boulder (GBR)

Back in the listed world of nickel explorers, it could be worth watching Great Boulder (GBR) in coming weeks.

A diary entry suggests that results from its highly anticipated drilling program at its Mt Venn copper-nickel-cobalt project east of Laverton in WA should start flowing before long.

The drill program is testing the big-time potential of the Eastern Mafic complex, about 7km from Mt Venn, where extensive copper-nickel-cobalt sulphide mineralisation has previously been identified.

The thought is that the Eastern Mafic is the feeder source of the extensive Mt Venn mineralisation.

The current drilling program is guided by geophysical work which identified multiple conductors over a 6km strike length.

More than that, the conductors were considered highly prospective because of their ‘late-time’ (slower) electromagnetic response, which is indicative of a bedrock source.

Should the Eastern Mafic come up trumps, it will add to the region’s status as one heavily mineralised part of the world.

The Mt Venn area is 25km west of the 6Moz Gruyere gold deposit, now being developed by Gold Road (GOR) in a joint venture with South Africa’s Gold Fields.

Somewhat famously, it was Great Boulder’s re-assaying of a 2015 water borehole drilled by Gold Road which elevated the Mt Venn area to nickel/copper prospect status in the first place.

Great Boulder has been hanging around the 39c level ahead of results from the Eastern Mafic being released. Leverage to success is good as it gets given the group’s $23m market cap. Expect Great Boulder’s booth under the big tent to be busy at Diggers & Dealers.

TNG LTD (TNG):

It’s a pity that a broad sweep of metals have taken a hit in the lead up to D&D.

The well-watered knees up events around town will be more subdued than they might have been. Mind you, not all commodity prices are wobbly.

Vanadium is a case in point. It’s marched to near-on $US20kg, or twice its level of early 2016. The price strength reflects two things, the first being China dictating its construction industry use more high-strength steel – vanadium’s main use - to protect against earthquakes and building collapses.

Then there is the forecast surge in demand to come from vanadium’s use in lithium-ion batteries, and the much bigger demand expected for vanadium redox batteries (VRBs) which have grid scale applications in the storage and dispatch of renewable energy sources.

Given it is a bright spot, it might have been assumed that some of the ASX-listed vanadium plays might have got a gig during D&D’s three-day talkfest. But not one of them is listed to talk.

Despite missing out on all of the associated bonhomie at D&D, it is not the end of the world for the vanadium stocks. The old ASX platform still works.

TNG used the old platform on Wednesday when it announced that the way had been cleared for a native title mining agreement to be secured for its world-scale Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project in the Northern Territory.

The breakthrough agreement means TNG can get cracking on securing financing for the $850 million stage one development of the project. It is clearly a big ask but there is optimism that financial close might well come in 2019.

That is due in part to the “development partner” status in Mount Peake of German engineering group SMS, one of Germany’s leading users of export credit financing. It is said to be the best credit in the world.

Soundings have also made to Australia’s own export credit agency, EFIC, and the North Australian Infrastructure Fund.

Then there are the all-important life-of-mine offtake agreements which have also been secured for Mount Peake’s trio of products, and what might come from the “strategic co-operation” agreement between TNG and BBI Group, an offshoot of New Zealand heavyweight Todd Corporation, and owner of the Balla Balla vanadium and titanium project in the Pilbara.

BBI was attracted by TNG’s proprietary TIVAN processing technology for potential use at Balla Balla, as well as investigating “commercial operation and synergies in the possible development’’ of Balla Balla and Mount Peake.

TNG last traded at 12.5c for a market cap of $112m.


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