First Nickel chasing down mineral potential

First Nickel chasing down mineral potential

In a year fraught with production lags, First Nickel is rebounding as positive drill results from its Sudbury’s Premiere Ridge Project and impending plans to develop new ore resources kick the company into high gear.

Standing out as a highlight for new president and CEO, William Anderson is one particular drill hole at the Premier site. It returned assays of 0.21 per cent nickel, 2.98 per cent copper, 2.85 grams per tonne (g/t) of platinum, 4.85 g/t of palladium, 4.66 g/t of gold and 58.9 g/t of silver over a 30-centimetre section.

”The real intrigue with the footwall zones is that they tend to be copper-rich and they tend to be stuffed full of platinum group elements (PGEs), so the value per tonne can be quite spectacular,” Anderson says.

”In the case of Premiere Ridge, the drill hole can be taken as indicative of that environment. Therefore we’ve got some exploration opportunities to chase.”

But the current focus is on obtaining full production at the Lockerby Mine site. Having spent approximately $20 million re-commissioning the mine in 2006 after they acquired it from Falconbridge in June 2005, Anderson says the company is now in a position to bring the site into full production.

Strong metal prices have kept the company afloat during production lags, although such concerns are now behind it. With nearly 125 employees toiling on regular production within the Lockerby Depth Zone production numbers are up to an estimated 105,000 tons for the year.

The summer exploration program which drilled 113 holes through 19,736 metres across the Lockerby Depth Zone and Lockerby East Zone, intersected what Anderson says is an enhanced resource potential, for which a new resource estimate will be published in early 2007. This will likely extend the mine’s estimated life span past the initial time frame of ”several years” outlined in the initial plan, says Anderson.

Development of the largely untouched zone began in early November, well after former owner Falconbridge halted exploration in 2004.

”Everything going forward is of our own doing. It’s kind of fun, and it’s good for the folks at the mine.”

Exploration is also underway at the Foy Mouth and Morgan-Lumsden properties, both of which are operating under Xstrata Nickel. Landore Resources’ West Graham is also part of the 20,000-metre diamond drill program that will test sulphide mineralization including contact, footwall and off-set dyke deposits. Regardless of the ups and downs, First Nickel has faced in 2006, Anderson is confident about the company’s current standing.

”As we ramp it up and get it to a steady state in 2007, we’ll have the wherewithal to build a longer future there. It’s not a slam dunk and it’s not done yet, but I believe we can do it. We’re on the threshold of doing something pretty good at Lockerby.”

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