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Coming to terms with nickel terms

THE LIFTING of the intra-state border at Morangup and Toodyay Roads on May 18 gave AHMAG members the chance to catch up and discuss the recent blanket pegging of 2300sq/km of Toodyay Shire by Chalice Gold Mines for nickel, copper and platinum group element (PGE) exploration.

It’s a rare discovery and the exploration company’s haste to secure the valuable resources means AHMAG has to come up to speed about some of the terms used in the exploration phase of mining.

The confirmed find on private land on Keating Road in Julimar is known as a ‘greenfield’ site, an unchartered area where minerals are found where they were previously not thought to exist.

Chalice is using two types of drilling methods – diamond and reverse circulation (RC).

Diamond drilling probes the contents of ore deposits by withdrawing a small core of rock, usually about 47mm in diameter, from the ore body for geologists to analyse.

RC drilling uses dual rod drill holes which allow the drill cuttings to be transported to the surface for analysis.

The company has also conducted an electro-magnetic (EM) aerial survey of a 24km-long target, 10km north of the confirmed resource but still needs to get State Government approval to gain access to verify the potential resource which is located in the Julimar State Forest.

While EM surveys are a quick and economical method of locating metallic conductors, they are not foolproof, and on-ground testing is needed to verify the find.

The type of ore identified in the Julimar area is nickel sulphide.

Because the Julimar find has also identified copper and the PGEs palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, osmium and iridium, the area may be mined using a combination of both open-cut and underground mining.

Six years ago, AHMAG members were getting their heads around the extraction and processing of bauxite and examining its negative environmental impacts. We now have to investigate what effect nickel mining could have on our community and natural surroundings.

We will all have to closely monitor Chalice’s application to mine in a State forest where a vulnerable population of Chuditch (Western Quoll) live.

Hopefully we will soon be out and about at local events with new information on what impacts the Chalice project may have on the Avon Valley environment.

Chalice’s reverse circulation drilling rig in Julimar. Photo: Chalice Gold Mine’s website.


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