Barely one year after revealing a Nigerian nickel discovery, Comet Minerals has discovered an innovation to crack the technical challenges presented by the mystery mineralisation.
The chief executive of Comet Minerals Mr Hugh Morgan confirmed discovery of what looks to be a vast and unique nickel deposit comprising an abundance of balls of almost pure nickel.
When he first unveiled the discovery at last year’s Africa Down Under conference, Mr Morgan was hopeful that separating the balls from the surrounding soil would be a relatively simple process.
But major variations in both the size and density of the nickel balls meant Comet has struggled to assay the system and understand the nature and scale of the deposit.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Africa Down Under conference in Perth, Australia, however, Mr Morgan said his team had in recent weeks finally established an accurate method of assaying the content of material. It means he is confident of establishing a maiden resource base for the deposit dubbed Titan as well as finalising plans for a processing plant at the project.
“We have what we believe is a very, very important nickel discovery,” Mr Morgan said.
“We think this is something that will put Nigeria on the map as having significant prospectivity and significant resources.”
The unusual nature of the nickel mineralisation coupled with its location in Nigeria, a country with next to no mining pedigree, has helped create an air of scepticism about the Titan deposit.
But Mr Morgan, who led the legendary mining house WMC from 1990 to 2003, is adamant the company is onto something significant.
He said there was a recognition in the Nigerian government that Titan could help the country as it tries to add diversity to an economy that is heavily reliant on the fortunes of the oil and gas industry.
“There’s a strong realism now and an imperative [within government] to make sure that the mining operations can go forward,” he said. “What’s important for Nigeria, and The what they recognise, is that the best advertisement they can have is a major successful enterprise.”
As well as the balls of nickel at surface, Comet has plans to drill into the hard rock beneath in the expectation of identifying the original source of the mineralisation.
Comet is funding its own work at Titan but will need to secure extra cash to develop the project.
Mr Morgan was tight-lipped about his preferences for funding, saying only that the company was looking at all its options. Adding momentum to the story is the fact nickel prices have finally started to rally. The metal, which is used in stainless steel and batteries, this week touched its highest level in two years.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has wooed investors with nickel discovery in the country and tax holiday at the opening session of the Africa Down Under (ADU) Conference.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, during his presentation at conference titled, ‘Mining for Shared Prosperity: Why Nigeria, Why Now’, he maintained that government would support the nickel project and other investors to move from resource find to exploration.
According to him the nickel discovery could be a ‘game changer’ for the economy, investors and host community if properly managed following government’s move to diversify the economy and create wealth and jobs for the people. He also said the nickel deposit, reputed to be of high grade and a ‘rare find’ covers about 20 kilometer square in Dagoma village in Southern Kaduna, has been secured by the government to ensure successful exploitation of the mineral by investors. Nickel-containing materials play a major role in everyday life, which include food preparation equipment, mobile phones, medical equipment, transport, buildings, power generation, and others.