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Buxton-IGO drilling yields massive nickel sulphides

Buxton Resources nickel and copper sulphides. Credit: File

Buxton Resources’ burgeoning union with mining giant IGO has struck a positive new chord after the latter’s first diamond drillhole at their joint venture (JV) project in Western Australia’s West Kimberley region confirmed high-grade massive nickel sulphides from 179.06m depth.

Headline results from the program at the JV’s nickel-copper-cobalt Dogleg prospect, within a broader zone of low-to-moderate grade disseminated sulphide mineralisation at its Quick Shears project, include 13.24m at 4.35 per cent nickel, 0.34 per cent copper and 0.15 per cent cobalt from 177.34m, with 5.6m at 7.47 per cent nickel, 0.31 per cent copper and 0.25 per cent cobalt from 179.08m.

Management says the results support the visually-identified and logged minerals in drill core, which include a combination of pyrrhotite, pentlandite and chalcopyrite. It believes it could now be hot on the trail of a Nova-Bollinger-style nickel sulphide deposit.

Buxton says the amount of mineralisation in the intercept is enough to trigger a $500,000 payment from IGO and for it to issue shares worth $250,000 to New World Cobalt. The company also received $2.35 million from IGO at the end of the previous quarter.

This result and our previous success at the Merlin prospect validate our view that the West Kimberley Project has potential to host Nova-Bollinger style nickel sulphide deposits. Such deposits are difficult to find but the success of the first two diamond holes at Dogleg, combined with the down-hole EM responses greatly encourage the joint venture. We look forward to future drilling to fully reveal the emerging exploration potential at Dogleg. Buxton Resources chief executive officer Marty Moloney

The Dogleg prospect lies within the Proterozoic belt, where the key target is Nova-style magmatic nickel-copper sulphide mineralisation. Buxton initially identified Dogleg as an area of interest following magnetic data interpretation suggesting it may be analogous to the magnetic features associated with its Merlin nickel-copper-cobalt prospect, about 13km along strike to the south-east.

It prompted the company to commission a moving-loop electromagnetic (MLEM) geophysical survey over Dogleg last year and it identified a 280m-by-75m conductor, leading to the decision to test the target with the first diamond drillhole and giving rise to the current suite of results.

Buxton says the intersected sulphide mineralisation is hosted in the Ruins Dolerite, which sits in a package of quartz-muscovite-bearing metasediments of the Marboo Formation that are similar to those observed at Merlin.

Encouraging visual indications from the first diamond hole prompted a second step-back hole drilled 65m down-plunge from the first intercept and outside the area of the original MLEM conductor.

The company revealed mid-last month that the second hole intersected 2.85m of semi-massive sulphide mineralisation of greater than 60 per cent from 233.65m. It said visually-logged nickel and copper sulphide mineralisation was confirmed by portable x-ray diffraction (pXRF) spot analyses.

Buxton made the Merlin discovery in 2015 and within three years, IGO – with its bulging market cap of $8.6 billion - saw enough merit in the project to want to join in.

In early November, 2018, Buxton acquired New World Cobalt’s West Kimberley project that comprised of the latter’s interest in three tenements covering about 552 square kilometres. It contains prospective host rocks contiguous with and extending into Buxton’s Merlin project, including the north-west continuation of the geological sequence that hosts the adjacent Merlin and Double Magic projects.

Later the same month, IGO moved to take up 15 per cent of Buxton’s capital structure via a placement, kicking in about $4 million into the company’s coffers. Buxton also granted IGO a two-year option to earn into and ultimately achieve a 70 per cent JV interest in the Double Magic-Merlin operation by spending $8 million in four years, with the former to be free-carried to completion of a feasibility study.

An additional agreement also allowed IGO to earn up to an 80 per cent interest in Buxton’s regional tenement land position in the West Kimberley, outside the Merlin-Double Magic project area, by spending a further $3 million in four years and with the same free-carrying arrangement.

By this point, Buxton now had farm-in and JV agreements in three separate project areas, all of which now fall within its partnership with IGO. And while that was playing out, IGO had also clearly been taken by Buxton’s eye for prospective ground and decided to join in on the latter’s Copper Wolf project in Arizona.

IGO started drilling Copper Wolf earlier this year and Buxton revealed last month that its partner had intersected a staggering 626.88m of porphyry-style chalcopyrite-molybdenite mineralisation in a second drillhole at the project.

In October last year, Buxton shareholders approved an amendment for IGO to increase its stake in Merlin to 80 per cent in return for a further $1 million cash payment. It now seems increasingly likely that there will be more deals for the two companies to smash out.

Fieldwork in the Kimberley is seasonal, meaning that with the completion of the second diamond drillhole and its accompanying DHEM survey, activities will be concluded.

Buxton says the vital assay results to reveal the level of observed mineralisation from the second hole are expected in three to seven weeks. A work program will then be defined and may include further drill testing of Dogleg next year.

Given the tantalising hits so far, it will be surprising if we have seen the last drillholes plunged into the prospect.

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