JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Dutwa nickel deposit in Tanzania appeared to be Africa’s first major base-metals discovery since the Copperbelt and the continent's "first major nickel laterite discovery", African Eagle Resources deputy chairperson Euan Worthington said on Wednesday.
Worthington, who is also on the board of European Nickel, told Mining Weekly Online in Johannesburg that drilling results so far indicated that the high value of the shallow deposit was the equivalent of an ounce of gold per ton of rock.
“It seems that we're on to a winner,” said African Eagle MD Mark Parker, who added that a third of the Aim- and AltX-listed African Eagle shareholders were South African.
Parker said that Dutwa appeared to be a “very substantial”, and comparable in grade to many of the world's other high-tonnage nickel laterites.
“You can see the green nickel minerals in rocks when you walk over,” Parker said.
Most of the world's nickel-laterite operations were quarry-type operations, with large deposits close to surface, he added.
“We've done our drilling programme. We’ve drilled 150 holes over the whole deposit and each set of laboratory results is better than the last,” Parker said.
It seemed there that there were also “very significant” cobalt credits along with the nickel in the deposit.
On potential processing difficulties, Parker said: “Although they are all different and all take a different type of processing, generally you can get pretty much all of the nickel out quite effectively.”
Looking at Dutwa on a world scale, Worthington noted that it was on the same latitude as Sulawesi in Indonesia, where nickel laterite had been mined for decades.
Similar grades could also be seen in other nickel deposits in Kazakhstan, the Philippines, US and Colombia.
“This really does look like the first major nickel laterite discovery in Africa and the value of some of the rock we have drilled so far is the massive equivalent of mining openpit one ounce of gold per ton of rock,” Worthington said.
“We see some very high values and I believe this is the highest value base-metal project outside the Copperbelt,” Worthington added.
There were hopes that Dutwa might be part of a new "nickel belt”, as what appears to be another laterite discovery had been made 70 km away.