- The Board has ordered a detailed desktop review of the Marlborough Project, given it was the last major asset to be acquired;
- Legacy data shows the area covered by the Marlborough project and Queensland Nickel contains proven and probable reserves of 48.7Mt at 0.94% nickel and 0.06% cobalt; and
- Upon completion of the desktop review, the Board will assess key targets and timing for the maiden drilling campaign – likely in 1H 2018.
The Marlborough Project comprises three prospects.
Marlborough Project, Queensland
Exploration Rationale: Exposure to Proven Co-Ni Resource
The Marlborough project comprises three prospects (pending native title clearance) that are located north-west of Gladstone (adjacent to Queensland Nickel mining leases) in an area which is proven high-grade Co-Ni systems. According to Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), legacy data shows the area covered by the Marlborough project and Queensland Nickel contains proven and probable reserves of 48.7Mt at 0.94% nickel and 0.06% cobalt within a total resource of 70.8Mt.
Local & Regional Geology
According to CCZ’s geology team, the regional geology highlights that Co-Ni laterites formed in the Marlborough Mass (which contains the tenures) are among the largest group of ultramafic rocks in eastern Australia. They are elongated north-westerly and north-easterly concordant, with the principal structural grain of the region. Further, laterites are surficial, zoned oxidation mantles, which develop by prolonged weathering. Co-Ni enriched profiles develop only on ultramafic bedrocks and deposit characteristics vary with the composition and structure of the parent type, landscape physiography, geomorphic history, and climatic conditions.
The DNRM estimates Queensland’s laterite resources and reserves contain >1.5 Mt of Ni and >140Kt of Co, with significant deposits found across Greenvale, Bell Creek, Minnamoolka, Lucknow, Lucky Break and Marlborough regions.
Efforts to bring deposits in the Marlborough region deposits into production were renewed in 2005 when the Queensland government granted ‘Significant Project’ status to Gladstone Pacific Nickel Ltd’s cobalt-nickel project. This comprised two stages:
- Stage 1 aimed to produce 63,000 tonnes/year nickel and 6,000 tonnes/year cobalt from a US$3.7B high-pressure acid leach plant/refinery to be constructed west of Gladstone.
- Stage 2 was to result in an expansion to produce 126,000 tonnes/year nickel and 12,000 tonnes/year cobalt.
Although the state and federal governments approved the EIS for stages 1 and 2 of the project, progress stalled and action shelved indefinitely due to the GFC and subsequent base metal downturn.