The 100% held Golden Ridge Project covers an area of 115 km² including the Blair Nickel Mine/Blair Dome, 30 km south east of Kalgoorlie, WA, or 40 km by road north of the Kambalda nickel processing facility and is prospective for Cobalt and Nickel.
An Ultramafic Dome is proposed for the Blair Project, with over 12 km of demonstrably prospective basal ultramafic contact outside the immediate Blair Nickel Mine Deposit. Subsidiary domes are also evident, adding another 5 km of ultramafic contact. This strongly enhances the exploration potential of the Project. Nine prospects can now be placed into a consistent geological context. Of these, Marshall, Anomaly 14 and Blair South have nickel sulphide intersections recorded in drilling. Mick’s Hill and Skidman have previously been un-rated for nickel. The Blair Dome is analogous, both geologically and in size, with other ultramafic domes at Kambalda, Tramways and Widgiemooltha, which are all major nickel sulphide mining centres. Existing geochemistry and drilling data is proving to be an excellent foundation for future work programs to expand upon. The Project has strong nickel potential – the Blair Nickel Mine closed in 2008 having produced 1.26Mt of nickel ore at 2.92% Ni. The Project includes substantial areas prospective for lateritic cobalt.
In 2017, the Company conducted a detailed review of the Golden Ridge drilling database specifically looking for cobalt mineralisation and six prospective areas, occurring along the southern and western flanks of the Blair Dome. The later half of 2017 saw the company complete a highly successful, targeted cobalt and nickel sulphide focused drilling programmes. The results of both these programmes were reported in January 2018.
Lateritic Cobalt deposits are generally broad and shallow by nature, having been deposited in the weathered rock mantle, however mineralisation can thicken greatly along zones of permeability such as strike-parallel faults. The tenor of cobalt values are at least the equivalent of other cobalt-laterites in the Kalgoorlie mineral district.
Cobalt-specific drilling at Golden Ridge comprised 30 reverse circulation drill holes (GRRC8-37) totalling 2,836 metres. Four targets were tested, being: Rocket, Leo’s Dam, Anomaly 13 and Anomaly 14 Prospects.
All prospects are located within granted mining leases and an exploration licence along the eastern flank of the Blair Dome, a geological structure within the Golden Ridge Project.
16 holes intersected significant cobalt mineralisation:
|Hole ID||Prospect||From (m)||To (m)||Intersection|
|GRRC34||Rocket||43||74||31m at 0.15% Co and 0.37% Ni from 43m|
|Including||29m at 0.16% Co and 0.33% Ni from 45m|
|GRRC37||22||28||6m at 0.57% Co and 0.52% Ni from 22m|
|Including||5m at 0.67% Co from 22m and 0.15% Ni (max 1m at 1.60% Co)|
|GRRC27||Leo’s Dam||38||60||22m at 0.18% Co and 0.53% Ni|
|GRRC28||45||50||5m at 0.10% Co and 0.61% Ni|
|GRRC33||34||53||19m at 0.22% Co and 0.23% Ni|
|Including||16m at 0.25% Co and 0.30% Ni from 34m|
|GRRC30||Anomaly 13||42||58||16m at 0.17% Co and 0.42% Ni|
|Including||9m at 0.27% Co and 0.45% Ni from 42m|
|GRRC32||34||50||16m at 0.08% Co and 0.56% Ni|
|GRRC13||Anomaly 14||42||48||6m at 0.11% Co and 0.32% Ni|
|GRRC14||42||48||6m at 0.11% Co and 0.56% Ni|
|GRRC16||32||39||7m at 0.14% Co and 0.72% Ni|
|GRRC17||52||56||4m at 0.08% Co and 0.33% Ni|
|GRRC18||34||42||8m at 0.17% Co and 0.17% Ni|
|GRRC19||34||51||17m at 0.11% Co and 0.17% Ni|
|Including||11m at 0.15% Co and 0.34% Ni from 34m|
|GRRC21||34||49||15m at 0.08% Co and 0.43% Ni|
|GRRC22||30||38||8m at 0.08% Co and 0.08% Ni|
|GRRC24||35||46||11m at 0.21% Co and 0.53% Ni|
- Rocket Prospect
- BLD053: (diamond core) 12m at 0.266% Co from 106m
- GRAC949: (aircore) 14m at 0.211% Co from 43m
- GRAC906: (aircore) 10m at 0.257% Co from 34m
- GRA0010: (aircore) 9m at 0.373% Co from 20m
- Anomaly 13 Prospect
- GOR0460: (RAB) 16m at 0.154% Co from 16m
- GOR0461: (RAB) 12m at 0.149% Co from 42m
- GOR0474: (RAB) 12m at 0.156% Co from 44m
- Anomaly 14 Prospect
- GOR0388: (RAB) 12m at 0.139% Co from 36m
- GOR0404: (RAB) 30m at 0.147% Co from 36m (to EOH)
- GOR0409: (RAB) 6m at 0.275% Co from 18m
- GOR0413: (RAB) 6m at 0.308% Co from 18m (to EOH)
- GOR0418: (RAB) 18m at 0.191% Co from 42m (to EOH)
- Leo Dam Trend
- GOR1107: (RAB) 8m at 0.198% Co from 48m
- GRA0233: (aircore) 10m at 0.153% Co from 38m
Outcomes of cobalt drilling programme
- The Rocket Prospect has returned the highest grade, up to 1.60% Co in GRRC37, and thickest intersection (GRRC34: 31m at 0.15% Co from 43m) of this programme. Drilling at the Rocket Prospect was designed to follow up an earlier diamond drill hole, BLD057: 12m at 0.27% Co from 106m, which demonstrated that mineralisation under certain circumstances, can extend to depth.
- Leo’s Dam is sparsely drilled and is adjacent to the ultramafic basal contact. Widely spaced drill traverses, predominantly completed by Pioneer, have returned lateritic cobalt in the laterite over a strike length of 1.5 km, and GRRC27: 22m at 0.18% Co from 38m is one of the better results from the 2017 drilling programme.
- Anomaly 13 is less well defined by earlier drilling, but is over 600m long and open to extensions in both north and south directions. Results from the 2017 RC drilling indicate the potential for higher grades than the adjacent Anomaly 14.
- Anomaly 14 is the prospect best defined by shallow aircore and RAB drilling. The prospect is over 600m long with multiple mineralised trends apparent, which are open for extensions in both north and south directions.
The next exploration steps include:
- Further drilling, guided initially by previous RAB and aircore results;
- The establishment of an Exploration Target; and
- Bench-scale extractive metallurgical testing.
Outcomes of nickel sulphide drill hole
Pioneer previously outlined an advance in the geological model for the Golden Ridge Project, including the proposition that an ultramafic dome is the dominant geological structure for the Project. This is analogous to other major nickel sulphide mining camps located to the south of the Blair Nickel Mine (within the Golden Ridge Project), such as Kambalda and Widgiemooltha.
Disseminated Ni sulphides intersected in GRRC38 are associated with two host rocks:
- Peridotite: best intersection 3m at 0.82% Ni and 157 ppm Cu from 170m
- Pyroxenite: best intersection 22m at 1.02% Ni and 473ppm Cu from 202m.
The next exploration steps will include:
- Further drilling along the fertile contact: Nickel sulphides form in specific geological environments and drilling coupled with litho-geochemistry is used to identify and confirm rock units that are prospective. Early diamond core drilling provides the greatest geological information;
- Petrography: Samples have been submitted for description, to better understand the genesis of the nickel mineralisation; and
- Down-hole Electromagnetic (EM) surveys are used to identify conductive rock units (which may include nickel sulphides) adjacent to a prospective drill hole.
The Blair Mine has a Mineral Resource estimate of: 222,710t of nickel sulphide ore with a grade of 2.92% Ni, as summarised by category in the table below:
|Class||Tonnes (t)||Ni (%)||Ni Metal (t)|
|Note: Appropriate rounding applied|
An Ultramafic Dome is proposed for the Blair Project, with over 12 km of demonstrably prospective basal ultramafic contact outside the immediate Blair Nickel Mine Deposit. Subsidiary domes are also evident, adding another 5 km of ultramafic contact. This strongly enhances the exploration potential of the Project.
Nine prospects can now be placed into a consistent geological context. Of these, Marshall, Anomaly 14 and Blair South have nickel sulphide intersections recorded in drilling. Mick’s Hill and Skidman have previously been un-rated for nickel.
The Blair Dome is analogous, both geologically and in size, with other ultramafic domes at Kambalda, Tramways and Widgiemooltha, which are all major nickel sulphide mining centres.
Existing geochemistry and drilling data is proving to be an excellent foundation for future work programs to expand upon.
The Blair Dome Model
Pioneer has proposed that the Blair Nickel Mine occurs at the southern end of a geological dome. Mineralisation, anomalies and targets are evident along the semi-oval surface expression of the basal ultramafic contact, which has a strike length of 12 km within Pioneer’s tenure.
The Blair Dome, when compared to the nearby nickel camps at Kambalda, Tramways and Widgiemooltha, has not been exhaustively explored. The Project has a reasonably comprehensive database of soil geochemistry, EM geophysics and regolith drilling, providing an excellent basis for target generation, however the deeper drilling, needed to discover nickel mineralisation, has often not been undertaken. The Company is compiling targets for future work, with priority given to locations with existing intersections of nickel sulphides, within 1 km of the Blair Mine decline.
Pioneer’s consultant geologist has recently provided recommendations for the next round of drill holes. If drilling is successful, the development timeline for a mine accessed from the existing infrastructure will be much shorter, and the set-up costs substantially reduced, enabling the Company to react quickly to an improved nickel market.
Revealing the Potential of the Blair Dome
The Blair Dome, when compared to the nearby nickel camps at Kambalda, Tramways and Widgiemooltha, has not been exhaustively explored. The Project has varying degrees of soil geochemistry coverage, and a number anomalies have reconnaissance-style drill results, which provide an excellent base-line data set. Prospects are further ranked according to drilling that has intersected nickel sulphides, or positive litho-geochemistry.
The Blair Dome geological model successfully brings 9 prospects plus the Blair Nickel Mine into a single, consistent geological model. Pioneer’s approach involved studying the Blair Mine in detail, and then applying observations to the greater Project area, using detailed aeromagnetic data, a gravity survey, and a litho-geochemical study of existing drill hole data. Mapping and drilling Information from 54 aircore and 6 RC drill holes drilled earlier this year also provided key information.
Soil geochemistry adds further support for the Blair Dome concept, with anomalies evident along the interpreted basal ultramafic contact. Areas such as Mick’s Hill, Marshall, Leo’s Dam and some as yet unnamed prospects are highlighted as priority areas for drilling.
When comparisons are made with the other similar sized nickel sulphide-bearing ultramafic domes near Kambalda, it is evident that the absence of multiple significant nickel deposits could be attributed to a lack of deeper exploration work, and this is where an opportunity for exploration success exists.
The Kambalda District nickel sulphide mines, including Blair, typically produce medium-high tenor nickel grade ore. The Blair Mine grade of all recorded production is approximately 2.6% Ni, which compares with other deposits, but individual grades exceeding 15% Ni evidence the presence of high tenor sulphides as well.
Blair Nickel Mine - Background
The Blair Nickel Mine was a 1960s Nickel Boom discovery. WMC began production in 1990 and the mine operated, with periodic halts, until December 2008 when it closed due to the prevailing low nickel price. Total mine production is recorded as 32,900t of contained nickel, which was treated at Kambalda.
A Mineral Resource estimate of 222,710t of nickel sulphide ore with a grade of 2.92% Ni, remains drilled out within the Blair Mine. (see announcement)
This Mineral Resource provides an excellent basis from which to grow, and current work includes identifying adjacent but outlying nickel mineralisation to generate a series of conceptual and empirical targets that have the capacity to increase the mineral resource to 20,000t of contained nickel.
The Company is aware that a number of commodity forecasters are predicting an improvement to the nickel price within the next few years, and this quarter has seen a substantial rise in the nickel price, from approximately US $6.00/lb to US $8.45/lb.