Noble finds Awaruite among Ontario Nickel and Gold
By Greg Klein
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Awaruite—pronounced a-WHAH-roo-ite—is a naturally occurring nickel-iron alloy that might be described as naturally occurring stainless steel, according to Vance White, President/CEO of Noble Mineral Exploration TSXV:NOB. And the stuff bids fair to further enhance the company’s Project 81, which already offers not only gold and nickel targets but also timber rights in the Ontario’s Timmins region.
That’s not to say that anyone expects to mine shining pots and pans straight out of the ground. But, as White points out, “Awaruite lends itself to magnetic separation in processing, which can mean shipping a concentrate direct to steel mills without smelting. It has tremendous benefits from both an environmental and a cost standpoint. You don’t need the CAPEX or operating costs of a processing facility.”
Elsewhere this alloy, which is usually found in ratios of approximately three parts nickel to one part iron, has attracted the attention of Cliffs Natural Resources NYE:CLF. In 2009, this giant supplier to the steelmaking industry entered a joint venture with First Point Minerals TSXV:FPX on the Decar Project in BC. First Point says it believes Decar is “the first property of its type anywhere in the world to be explored for possible commercial production of nickel entirely from awaruite.” And last year, Cliffs struck a strategic partnership with Altius Minerals Corp TSX:ALS, attracted by the company’s awaruite exploration in Newfoundland.
Noble‘s awaruite turned up in samples from Project 81′s Kingsmill Deposit that had previously been assayed for nickel. The new results prompted Noble to bring on new talent, metallurgical consultant Gordon Bacon, who boasts extensive experience in awaruite deposits around the world.
“We’re very pleased to see the awaruite occurrence and to retain Dr Bacon,” White says. “We look forward to the additional evaluation that he’ll be carrying out over the next few weeks.”
Kingsmill’s nickel assays had thus far been provided in two forms, aqua regia and total-digestion inductively coupled plasma (AR-ICP and TD-ICP). In an interview last March, Noble‘s VP Exploration Randy Singh explained the distinction. “Aqua regia dissolves the sulphide nickel. Total digestion is a four-acid digestion that dissolves everything, the silicate nickel and the sulphide nickel. We use both assays because if all your nickel is in silicates, it’s not economically possible to recover it. Any assay that is more than 0.25% nickel aqua regia gets a third assay. It’s a wet chemistry technique, which is an assay-quality analysis that’s even more accurate for sulphide nickel. It’s a much more involved analysis, and we’ll release those results when we receive them.”
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