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More thick WA nickel hits for Western Mines Group at Mulga Tank

Western Mines Group is growing its Mulga Tank project in WA’s eastern goldfields. Credit: File

Western Mines Group (ASX: WMG) has continued to stump up thick nickel intersections from its Mulga Tank project in Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields region after unveiling a new suite of results from a phase-two drill program.

Management said the results from its most recent campaign also produced higher-grade 1m hits of 3.16 per cent nickel and 1.2 per cent copper. The company’s reverse-circulation (RC) drill results returned further “eyebrow-raising” intersections up to 240m thick and containing disseminated nickel with anomalous copper and platinum-group-elements (PGE).

The news clearly resonated with ASX punters today, with Western Mines’ share price jumping more than 56 per cent during intraday trading to a high of 34.5c and on the company’s biggest volume for the past month.

A 240m hit was found to be going 0.3 per cent nickel, 133 parts per million copper, 133ppm cobalt and a combined 36 parts per billion platinum-palladium from 90m, in addition to 184m at 0.27 per cent nickel, 82ppm copper, 126ppm cobalt and 18ppb platinum-palladium. A further intersection showing 199m at 0.31 per cent nickel, 260ppm copper, 139ppm cobalt and 27ppb platinum-palladium from 119m rounded out the impressive results from three holes.

Western Mines says the 17-hole phase-two infill program was designed to follow up and test the higher-grade core of the mineralised system outlined in its recently-announced exploration target of between 350 million and 2.2 billion tonnes grading from 0.24 per cent nickel up to 0.35 per cent. Drilling tested for extensions to mineralisation to the south of the phase-one drilling area and the company says results have been returned for 13 of the 17 holes drilled.

The balance of results from the remaining four drillholes are expected in about four weeks.

This south-west area is emerging as an exciting area for follow-up drilling, targeting richer and thicker zones of massive sulphide accumulations along with a number of other high-grade pods/ zones encountered across the Mulga Tank Complex as we increase drilling density.
Western Mines Group managing director Dr Caedmon Marriott

The company said all three latest holes ended in mineralisation and sit on the southern edge of the drilled area and remain open to the south. It says the area will be targeted with follow-up drilling. It also plans to prioritise its targeting of higher-grade matrix-massive zones of mineralisation.

The latest assays show a continuation of extremely thick intersections drilled within the past year.

Management believes it has proven the existence of significant nickel sulphide mineralisation and an extensive nickel sulphide mineral system within its Mulga Tank ultramafic complex. After an initial 22-hole phase-one RC drill campaign confirmed a big shallow mineralised system, it says the phase-two program has stamped its potential as a globally-significant open-pit deposit.

Western Mines also observed thick intersections of magnesium oxide adcumulate dunite within the complex, indicating it could potentially be targeting a deposit similar to BHP’s long-running, low-grade Mt Keith nickel system.

In October, the company signed a binding agreement with Dynamic Metals to secure a key tenement that significantly expands Mulga Tank. The acquisition took the total area of the project out to 425 square kilometres, covering about 37km strike and the entire Minigwal greenstone belt that management says is under-explored due to the presence of shallow sand cover.

With the RC infill campaign now complete and assay results starting to flow, Western Mines has converted the rig to diamond drilling and has moved on to begin a deep diamond hole to test for a sulphide-enriched keel in the deepest part of the complex. The hole is being co-funded through a grant of $220,000 from the State Government’s exploration incentive scheme.

Nickel and copper prices may be on the march after a rise triggered by sanctions introduced in the United Kingdom and United States that effectively ban the trading of new Russian supplies of the vital industrial metals on two of the world’s biggest exchanges – the London Metals Exchange (LME) and the Chicago Mercentile exchange that famously trades futures contracts on a range of commodities.

Nickel, a key ingredient in electric vehicle (EV) batteries and steelmaking, rose 1.5 per cent on the news. Copper added 1.6 per cent to US$9604 (AU$14,943) per tonne – its highest level in almost two years – on expectations of a tighter market due to the sanctions.

Russia is a key producer of the two metals, generating 4 per cent of copper and 11 per cent of high-purity nickel metal, according to Citigroup.

The LME said on Saturday that it would not permit Russian metal produced after April 13 to be stored in its warehouses. It said supplies of Russian origin produced before that date can still enter the LME warehouse system but will be marked under a separate category.

Mulga is Western Mines’ flagship project, however, it also has other promising options to play with. Its primary gold project is Jasper Hill, which features a 3km mineralised trend with walk-up drill targets.

With the wheel potentially turning for the nickel and copper market after a period in the doldrums, the company could find that its continual discoveries place it in a “right time, right moment” position.

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