WA nickel exploration in the CSIRO spotlight

nickel

High grade nickel ore in peridotite ultramafic rocks.

Researchers from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have received funding to study indicator minerals in Western Australia and identify high-grade nickel bodies more efficiently.

The Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) contributed $354,914 to the project for a total funding wallet of $1,469,677.

This money will support eight WA-based case studies to provide samples from various deposit types.

The team will study the distinctive trace element signatures within indicator minerals from these different deposit types and understand their prevalence in the WA landscape.

CSIRO research scientist Louise Schoneveld explained why this work was important for the mining industry.

“Using indicator minerals would be a new tool for exploration for NiS (nickel sulfide), which would allow for more informed decisions on which regions may be prospective for the next large magmatic sulfide discovery,” she told Australian Mining.

“Western Australia is one of the most fertile terrains in the world to make a new discovery like this.”

The study is being sponsored by many major mining companies including Anglo American, BHP, IGO and Western Areas.

Shoneveld said the support from the wider industry was much appreciated and would help to facilitate the important work.

“The collaboration with the mining companies is crucial in the success of this project,” she said.

“We need many, well characterised regions to ensure we understand the indicator mineral signatures and how they are affected by the WA regolith/cover environment.

“The MRIWA collaboration is also vital as it gives us the time and funding to be able to collate this data (along with other published data) and develop the techniques to ensure these indicator mineral methods are practical, useful and have the ability to fit within the current exploration method.”

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