Poseidon Nickel marked an important milestone recently by announcing an updated mineral resource estimate for the disseminated sulphide deposit at its Black Swan nickel project in Western Australia.
The updated Mineral resource estimate (MRE) is important, as it underpins the company’s project operating model as it moves towards the final investment decision for the regeneration of the project.
For those who came in late, the Black Swan nickel project was originally a joint venture (JV) between MPI Mines and Outokumpu, having been discovered in the 1960s by Anglo American Australia identifying what would become the Cygnet and Black Swan deposits.
During the early 1990s, the MPI and Outokumpu JV focused on the massive/semi-massive sulphide deposits of the adjacent Silver Swan, Gosling, Cygnet and White Swan ore bodies – leading to underground mining and plant construction in 1996, with the first ore extracted in 1997.
Open pit mining of the Black Swan disseminated sulphide deposit commenced in 2004 and continued until February 2009, when a deflated nickel price resulted in the mine being placed on care and maintenance.
Poseidon Nickel acquired the project from Norilsk Nickel in July 2014, believing in its potential to leverage off the existing infrastructure and large resource base.
Black Swan has a 2.2-million-tonnes-per-annum process plant, and the recent resource upgrade is a key deliverable to the company’s Fill the Mill strategy.
The updated MRE now totals 26.3 million tonnes at 0.72 per cent nickel for 189,000 tonnes of contained nickel metal, and excludes historical mine stockpiles of 1.6 million tonnes at 0.5 per cent nickel for 7800 tonnes of contained nickel.
‘Our drilling and subsequent resource update returned a significant 48 per cent increase in the Black Swan disseminated measured and indicated resources,’ Managing Director Peter Harold told Future Mining.
‘From this increased nickel inventory, we have gained greater confidence in the mineral resources, which can be included in future ore reserves estimations.’
Poseidon Nickel has been implementing an expansion project towards restarting the Black Swan project based on a bankable feasibility study completed in 2022 for a 1.1-million-tonnes-per-annum mill feed option to produce smelter-grade concentrate.
This expansion project has involved metallurgical test work and providing rougher concentrate samples to potential customers for testing of downstream processing.
The aim of the expansion project is to demonstrate that annual production of nickel in concentrate could increase, thereby extending mine life due to the ability to treat talc carbonate material.
‘What we have achieved is a much-improved understanding of the grade distribution within the metallurgically important serpentinite (low-talc material) and talc carbonate–hosted ores below the existing Black Swan open pit,’ Harold continues.
‘Understanding the distribution and metallurgical characteristics of these ore types is key to further de-risking the restart of Black Swan.’