First Point Minerals (FPX-V) has released encouraging assays from the first nine of 36 holes from the 2011 drill program at its flagship Decar nickel-iron alloy project in central B.C.
Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF-N) managed the 11,000-metre program and holds an option to acquire up to 75% of the project.
Of the nine initial holes, eight tested the main Baptiste zone along 200-metre centres while one tested a standalone target located 4.6 km to the north named Target B. The Baptiste holes returned long intersections, such as 263 metres grading 0.13% awaruite, a rare type of mineral hosted in serpentinized peridotite that the company refers to as “magnetically recovered nickel.”
When paired with two holes from drilling in 2010, the results suggest a deposit with an east to west strike length of open-ended, continuous mineralization over 1,050 metres.
They have also shown that mineralization at Baptiste extends more than 600 metres from north to south, and to a vertical depth of about 230 metres.
First Point believes one of the new holes, 11BAP-06, likely marks the northern boundary of Baptiste mineralization. The zone remains open to the south, east and west, however, as well as at depth.
The remaining 27 holes at Baptiste tested areas to the west, east and north, meaning the central-south boundary of the Baptiste zone will require additional drilling. One hole, 11BAP-09, also tested the deposit to a depth of 600 metres instead of the usual 300 metres downhole. Assays are pending for those holes.
After the results from all core samples are received, Cliffs will have Caracle Creek International Consulting evaluate whether there are sufficient data to prepare a maiden National Instrument 43-101 inferred mineral resource estimate.
There is no guarantee that the 2011 drilling campaign will be enough, however. Because many of the remaining holes are slightly to the north of northern boundary hole 11BAP-06, a third season of drilling may be required to establish an initial resource. Should this occur, Cliffs would likely have to delay completing a preliminary economic assessment for the project, previously expected by the end of 2012.
As for the single exploration hole drilled into Target B, it returned a long intersection of 259 metres averaging 0.13% awaruite, confirming a potential standalone target. First Point says visually estimated nickel-iron alloy grains reached 700 microns, or 0.7 millimetre, in size, representing some of the coarsest-grained mineralized material observed to date at Decar. This is good news: the coarser the grains, the easier they are to recover using magnetic separation.
Other intercepts from Baptise include 305 metres of 0.12% magnetically recovered nickel, 259 metres of 0.14% magnetically recovered nickel and 254 metres of 0.16% magnetically recovered nickel.
In a press release about the results, Peter Bradshaw, First Point’s president and chief executive officer, commented that “the length and grade of these holes are impressive. They represent an important step in demonstrating the possible presence of a bulk-tonnage, open-pittable nickel-iron alloy deposit at Decar.”
Shares of the company gained marginally on the drill results, edging up a half cent to 44¢ on 100,000 shares traded at presstime on Dec. 19.