Barring any last-minute issues, we’re on course to start drilling the B1 Conductor in the Kalahari Suture Zone this Friday. We expect it will take about four weeks to drill to target depth, but we are mindful of the challenges we encountered last time we were here.
The two biggest problems we faced were the vertical fractures in the rocks immediately above the target zone (including some significant cavities that led to 100% water loss) and the expanding clays that caused us to lose a drill string.
Successfully completing the hole, given the treacherous conditions, is testament to the quality of our drill partner, Mindea Exploration & Drilling Services. We are looking forward to working with them again and are confident they are the right people to get the job done.
This time around, we enter the drill campaign forewarned. Now that we know what we are dealing with, we’ve been able to prepare accordingly. We have put in place substantial water supplies, we’ve designed the programme to account for the specific rock layers we expect to encounter, and we will have the Down Hole ElectroMagnetic probe on site to allow us to take regular readings to confirm we are on track.
We’ve really done all we can to give us the greatest chance of hitting that 28,700 Siemens target.
The question now is, what is the B1 Conductor?
There aren’t many things this could be in nature.
We all hope it will prove to be massive sulphides, but until we retrieve the core we won’t know.
Massive sulphides, to recap, are large deposits consisting predominantly of chemical compounds of sulphur and metal. They are associated with many of the world’s largest nickel, copper, and platinum group element (“PGE”) production.
The prize on offer is truly enormous.
With a conductance of 28,700 Siemens, our B1 Target in particular is well into the range accepted by nickel-copper specialist geophysicists for massive sulphides.
We believe we narrowly missed B1 when we attempted to drill into it last year. While this was extremely disappointing, the Down Hole EM survey gave us much encouragement. It confirmed the presence of this body, within 50m or so of where our hole was.
And there are other reasons why such a near miss could prove to be very positive for our prospects now.
As part of our detailed preparation for this drill campaign, we have completed a great deal of desktop work. Nickel expert Richard Hornsey has worked with our physical data, while Jeremy, Hillary and Dr Hamid Mumin have completed a number of important studies so we could learn from the experience of others.
Interestingly, their work revealed a number of key parallels between Kavango’s progress and that of Sirius Resources prior to its discovery of Nova Bollinger in western Australia.
First identified in 2012, Nova Bollinger went on to become one of Australia’s largest ever nickel-copper sulphide deposits. It generated a huge amount of value for Sirius and its shareholders when the company was acquired for A$1.8 billion by Independence Group in 2015. Today, Nova Bollinger produces approximately 1.3 million tonnes of nickel, copper, and cobalt every year.
As we all know, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. But given the scale of Sirius’ success at Nova Bollinger and its existing similarities with the KSZ, it’s worth looking at the two projects side by side as we prepare to take another pass at B1.
As was the case with Nova Bollinger for Sirius Resources, the KSZ currently represents a large exploration opportunity for Kavango.
For one thing, we believe it displays a geological setting with distinct similarities to the world-class magmatic sulphide deposits at Norilsk in Siberia. Norilsk alone accounts for 90% of Russia’s nickel reserves, 55% of its copper, and virtually all of its PGEs.
The KSZ is also literally vast. The anomaly spans 450km and our project licences cover 8,831km2 of ground – a very large package by any explorer’s measures.
Like Sirius did with Nova Bollinger, we have taken a technology-led approach to exploration across our 8,831km2 in the Kalahari Suture Zone. We’ve often talked about the potential for a Norilsk style model, but it is worth noting Richard Hornsey’s comments last summer where he noted the potential similarity between the KSZ and Fraser Range.
Fraser Range happens to host Nova Bollinger.
The specific technology used by ourselves and Sirius differs slightly. But essentially, we’ve both used a combination of surface electromagnetic surveying and downhole electromagnetic surveys to find high conductance, high priority drill targets.
For Sirius, their surveys identified a number of nickel-prospective conductors within a magnetic structure known as “the Eye”. These can be seen below…
For us, our work identified the cluster of prospective B Conductors within a structure known as the “Great Red Spot” – again, seen below:
In fact, technological developments over the past decade have enabled us to take our target refinement even further than Sirius. As highlighted in our recent RNS…
- Controlled Source AudioMagnetotelluric (“CSAMT”) data suggests the B1 Target area contains “sills”. These are thin, horizontal formations formed when molten magna intrudes into layers of rock. When this magma contains metal ions, it can lead to the formation of massive sulphides during the cooling process.
- Time Domain Electromagnetic and Downhole Electromagnetic surveys have sharpened our understanding of the B1 Target, allowing us to remodel it over a more constrained zone. The Target’s surface area is now in the typical size range for massive sulphide bodies
- Desktop studies have led us to believe B1 could be associated with pyrrhotite. Pyrrhotite is very conductive and often associated with nickel-bearing minerals in massive sulphide bodies.
- Our data has also effectively been able to rule out a number of possible causes for B1’s conductance such as coal and saline aquifers. These enhance the probability that the electrical conductivity in the Target area is, in fact, being generated by massive sulphides.
Working hard for success
These are all great additional pre-drilling indicators that we hope to increase our chances of success. But what will really get the needle moving for Kavango is the successful intersection of B1 and physical proof of the presence of massive sulphides.
Again, parallels with Sirius’ work at Nova Bollinger provide encouraging precedent.
As we know, our first attempt to intersect the B1 Target early last year was unsuccessful. But after processing the data gathered, and that we subsequently collected in the time since drilling took place, we now:
- Believe we narrowly missed the B1 Target;
- Are confident we can intersect B1 via drilling; and
- Are targeting not one but three conductors (B1, B3, and B4)
We don’t yet know whether we will intersect B1. Nor do we know what we will find if we do. However, what’s important for now is that our journey at B1 so far is very similar to the one that preceded Sirius’ discovery of Nova Bollinger.
Take a look at the image below:
The interesting hole to look at is Hole SFRC0025. You can see on the illustration above how close that hole was to the Nova Bollinger deposit. It was less than 20 meters away, but had “no significant intersection”.
This highlights how thin the margin can be between success and failure in nickel exploration. Once you take away luck, the key to exploration success is a mix of patience, perseverance, and technical work that can constantly improve targeting.
This brings us back to the importance of the Down Hole EM surveys. We all have to credit Jeremy here. He has been the driving force behind ensuring we pursue the rigorous exploration programme we have.
That down hole data tells us loud and clear that we just narrowly missed B1 and that the target is extremely conductive. Could we be about to discover another Nova Bollinger?
I certainly hope so.
We now all need to let Mindea get on with their job and wait to see what we hit.