The Espedalen Project is approximately 50km north-west of Lillehammer in southern central Norway, 3 hours north of Oslo. The project is well served with transport infrastructure, being accessible by tarmac roads and close to rail links to ports in southern Norway and to Glencore’s Nikkelverk nickel refinery 350km to the south.
The nickel mineralisation at the Espedalen Project is hosted within differentiated mafic and ultramafic bodies which have intruded anorthositic country rocks. The mafic and ultramafic rocks are collectively referred to as the “Espedalen Complex” and range in age from 1698 – 1250 Ma. This age range is similar to the age of the rocks hosting the giant Voisey’s Bay nickel deposit in Labrador, Canada. Further evidence supporting the analogy between Espedalen and Voisey’s Bay are tectonic plate reconstructions which place southern Norway and Labrador in relatively close proximity during the time of formation of Voisey’s Bay and with the two regions undergoing similar tectonic developments.
Mining in the area dates from 1666 when copper was discovered in the Espedalen valley and mined intermittently until 1750. Nickel mining occurred between 1848 and 1918 from several small mines. The Veslegruva mine, from which approximately 3,500t of nickel ore was extracted, is located in the south west of the Espedalen Project area and is accessible today. Total production from the Espedalen region is estimated at 100,000 tonnes @ 1.0% Ni, 0.4% Cu and 0.6% Co.
The next phase of exploration at Espedalen commenced in 1960 and continued through until 1980. Sulfidmalm and Norsk Hydro drilled 44 holes following up on targets generated from a helicopter magnetic / electromagnetic survey and geological mapping.
In 2003, Falconbridge Limited was granted tenements in the Espedalen valley following which ground and airborne electromagnetic surveys were undertaken, generating numerous drill targets. In 2004, Falconbridge concluded a joint venture agreement with Blackstone Ventures Limited. Between 2004 and 2008, Blackstone drilled 134 drill holes across the Espedalen project area, defining significant accumulations of nickel sulphides at the Stormyra and Dalen prospects and generating numerous other quality prospects.
In 2009, Blackstone published an NI 43-101 report detailing Mineral Resources at the Stormyra and Dalen prospects. Following the fallout from the Global Financial Crisis, Blackstone relinquished the Espedalen Project in 2011. ASX listed Drake Resources Limited (now renamed Ragnar Metals Limited) acquired the Espedalen Project in 2012 by pegging open ground. Drake undertook a detailed assessment of all previous work including re-estimating the Mineral Resources at Stormyra and Dalen prospects in accordance with JORC (2012).
The Mineral Resource at the Stormyra prospect was defined as 1.16Mt @ 1% Ni, 0.42% Cu, 0.04% Co, at a US$100/t gross metal value cut-off and was classified as Inferred in accordance with JORC (2012).
The Mineral Resource at Dalen prospect has been defined at 7.8Mt @ 0.28% Ni, 0.12% Cu, 0.02% Co, at a US$40/t gross metal value cut-off and was classified as Inferred in accordance with JORC (2012).
The Dalen Mineral Resource was calculated from drilling and assay data generated solely from diamond drill holes. A total of 33 drill holes for 5018m were included in the Dalen prospect database and 27 of these drill holes used in the mineral resource estimate.
It has been assumed that mining of the Stormyra Mineral Resource would be via a selective underground mining scenario due to the mostly narrow true widths and moderate dip of the mineralisation. It has been assumed that the Dalen Mineral Resource would likely be a bulk mining scenario as the extensive true widths and lateral extents are amenable for such operations.
No metallurgical work has been undertaken to date on the Stormyra and Dalen Mineral Resources and no assumptions have been made regarding processing methodologies. However, limited metallurgical test work has been completed on two samples from the nearby Megrund prospect. This test work was carried out by Lakefield in Canada in the 1970’s. The best results obtained from this work produced a concentrate assaying 15% Ni and 5.3% Cu, with recoveries in the range 75-79%. Metallurgical results can be expected to improve with further test work.
The Stormyra and Dalen Mineral Resources, above their respective cut-off’s of US$100/t GMV and US$40/t GMV, have been classified as Inferred, in accordance with JORC (2012), due to the wide spaced drilling, uncertainty in bulk density determinations, and the incomplete sampling of available drill core. The gross metal value calculation for the cut-offs, used to estimate the Stormyra and Dalen Mineral Resources, utilised metal prices of US$7.71/lb for Ni, US$2.2/lb for Cu and US$7.71 for Co. Pursuit is planning to re-estimate the Mineral Resources utilising current metal prices as that will influence the overall size and grade of the mineralisation above an economic cut-off.
In addition to defining JORC (2012) compliant mineral resources at Stormyra and Dalen, Drake identified 10 prospects where drilling by Blackstone had intersected at least 5m @ >1% Ni and that these prospects had not been followed up with further drilling. Prior to drill testing either the potential extensions of the Mineral Resources at Stormyra and Dalen, or drill testing any of the prospects of >5m @ >1% Ni, Drake dropped the Espedalen project tenements in 2015. These 10 quality targets warrant follow up drilling.
EMX were granted tenements covering the Espedalen Project in February 2018 and undertook a detailed compilation of all the past mineral exploration and drilling data. EMX recognised that the Stormyra Mineral Resource is not closed off and a number of intersections warrant follow up drilling, to determine if the Mineral Resource can be expanded, including:
- 21.1m @ 1.75% Ni, 0.66% Cu & 0.06% Co from 64m in hole ES2005-20
- 7.1m @ 2.68% Ni, 1.26% Cu & 0.08% Co from 29.3m in hole ES2005-22
- 14.6m @ 1.74% Ni, 0.79% Cu & 0.06% Co from 80.4m in hole ES2004-09
The Stormyra Mineral Resource contains a high-grade core, with drill intersections of up to 2.9% Ni. The high-grade core is not fully defined by drilling. Additional investigation of this high-grade core is warranted along with drill testing a ground geophysical conductor, directly associated with the nickel mineralisation, which extends 500m to the south-east of the currently defined limits of the Stormyra Mineral Resource.
At the Megrund prospect, nine holes were previously drilled, a number of which justify follow up drilling including:
- 117m @ 0.31% Ni & 0.12% Cu (Hole ES 07 101)
- 56m @ 0.72% Ni & 0.22% Cu (Hole 17)
- 54m @ 0.36% Ni & 0.14% Cu (Hole 25)
- 36m @ 0.57% Ni & 0.24% Cu (Hole 6)
On the Espedalen Project, Pursuit will focus its assessment and exploration activities on the following:
- Assess the potential to expand the high-grade core of the Stormyra Inferred Mineral Resource
- Test a number of the targets of >5m @ >1% Ni
- Assess the potential to define a maiden Inferred Mineral Resource from the existing drill holes at the Megrund prospect