John Pattison, North American Nickel’s Chief Geologist states: “Stage one, the field stitch (FS) imagery, covers only small sections of core, but the results are very encouraging as we can now confirm medium and coarse-grained pentlandite in two of the three samples. We look forward to receiving the results of the particle mineral analysis (PMA) as they will provide us with an indication of the liberation characteristics of the sulphides. While the Maniitsoq project is at a relatively early stage, it is not too early to begin investigating the metallurgical characteristics of the mineralization, as we plan for success in drilling several targets in 2013.”
Initial metallurgical work consisting of field stitch imaging (combining multiple electron microscope scans into a larger image of a section of polished drill core) has revealed that nickel appears to be hosted in the nickel sulfide pentlandite at the Maniitsoq project of North American Nickel. This is not surprising given what we already know about the mineral assemblages (Ni-Cu-Co-PGM) and the norite mafic (mantle derived) instrusives at the Maniitsoq complex. Still, confirming that the pentlandite sulfide mineralization is present in large portions as distinct and coarse grains is a significant step in establishing the mineralization potential of the camp (all the major magmatic Ni-Cu-PGM camps of the world — Sudbury, Bushveld, Norilsk, etc. — feature pentlandite as the primary nickel sulfide). It also suggests that separation and processing of economic sulfide mineralization will be achievable using conventional methods (dense media separation, milling, flotation, etc.).
Exploration should be considered very early stage at Maniitsoq given the property size and the number of conductors and other anomalies that have yet to be sampled or drill tested, much less identified. Such early stage exploration may require 2-3 years or more to do a proper first pass exploration at the district scale.
An example of the blue sky possibilities for discovery of a major Ni-Cu system is the recent performance in Western Australia by Sirius Resources (ASX: SIR) at its Nova project. The stock of Sirius has reached about $1 billion valuation on the potential of a high grade multi-deposit nickel copper district being developed at Nova. There, the main ore body discovered to date (EM Conductor 1) starts at 150 meters below surface with the core mineralized zone about 300 meters depth. By contrast most of the targets drilled to date at Maniitsoq have been outrcrops or very close to surface such as Imiak Hill and Spotty Hill where the deepest holes are barely 150 meters.
Considering that Maniitsoq has been eroded to a depth of 25 kilometers, the vertical potential of the mineralization should be considered extensive. Of course this assumes that most of the mineralization hasn’t already been eroded in the top 25 kilometers of the system, which is a distinct possibility. Advanced geological studies will be required to establish the phase and characteristics of the mineralization in order to determine the potential for finding economic ore bodies at depth. Of course deep penetrating EM, IP and magnetics should be used to identify additional anomalies for drill testing once the existing priority targets have been evaluated.
At the current stage Maniitsoq represents one of the more prospective raw district scale projects in the world with significant discovery potential in the 2-3 year range. There are no guarantees that one or more large high grade Ni-Cu-PGM ore bodies will be discovered but the work to date suggests a good possibility of success. Given the good location, access to infrastructure and development potential of the Maniitsoq project any significant discoveries should be well received by the market.