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Terrain flies high in bid to define Nova-style “eye” feature

Terrain Minerals has kicked off a helicopter-borne electromagnetic survey at its Lort River project near Esperance. Credit: File

Terrain Minerals (ASX: TMX) has launched a helicopter-borne electromagnetic (AEM) survey at its Lort River project near Esperance in Western Australia to test a distinctive “eye” magnetic feature similar to the one that led to the discovery of the extraordinary nearby Nova deposit.

The company has awarded the contract to pioneering global geophysical provider UTS Geophysical to fly the detailed survey, which is expected to take about three weeks, with an additional three weeks allocated to interpret and model the new data set.

Management says the feature bears stark similarities to IGO’s renowned Nova-Bollinger nickel-copper deposit in WA’s prospective Albany-Fraser belt. Importantly, the 640-square-kilometre Lort River operation sits along the interpreted strike of the Nova nickel-copper mine.

In addition to detecting nickel sulphide mineralisation, the AEM survey has been designed to also map zones of potential clay-hosted rare earths across the tenement. By targeting two styles of mineralisation, Terrain says it is aiming to optimise the outcome of the survey and maximise value per dollar.

Since defining its eye feature, Terrain’s anticipation has growth through a backdrop created by Sirius Resources, which targeted a similarly-described structure back in 2012 at a little-known project called Nova and some eight months later, went on to test another anomaly known as Bollinger. It is now etched in history that Sirius’ share price catapulted from 5c to $5 in just a matter of months before IGO came calling with a $1.8 billion takeover in 2015.

Sirius’ eye had turned out to be the geophysical signature of the ultramafic intrusion hosting the cluster of nickel-copper ore bodies. The resulting indicated and inferred resource for Nova-Bollinger was set at a massive 14.3 million tonnes at 2.3 per cent nickel, 0.9 per cent copper and 0.08 per cent cobalt.

At the time, Sirius repeatedly expressed a view that electromagnetics continued to be a reliable exploration tool during its exploration and development of the Nova-Bollinger nickel-copper deposit. So, it makes plenty of sense for Terrain to be mirroring the methodology.

Lort River sits just 50km north of Esperance in the southern regions of the Albany-Fraser orogenic belt – home to an expanding list of precious and critical metals including the five million-ounce Tropicana Gold project that is owned by AngloGold Ashanti’s joint venture (JV) with Regis Resources and IGO’s zinc-copper volcanic-hosted massive sulphide (VMS) discovery at Andromeda.

In October last year, Terrain hit rare earths during a reconnaissance-scale air-core (AC) drill campaign at Lort River, with high percentages of magnetic rare earth oxides (MREO) up to 43 per cent.

Assay highlights showed a 3m intercept grading 919 parts per million total rare earth oxides (TREO) from 23m, including a peak 1m hit going 1878ppm TREO. It also recorded a 6m section at 900ppm TREO from 18m including 1m reading 1815ppm and another 1m intercept with 1103ppm.

Additional results showed a wider 12m intercept at 614ppm TREO from 26m and 5m going 591ppm from just 13m including 1m grading 1042ppm.

Now, the market will be keeping a close “eye” on the results of Terrain’s latest survey and a positive outcome will guide the company’s follow-up exploration program at Lort River.

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