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Junior miner shows more nickel to be had in the Sudbury basin

SPC Nickel posts maiden mineral estimate on West Graham Project
West Graham Project in the Sudbury basin

An emerging Sudbury nickel mining company has posted a first-time mineral estimate of its deposit in the Sudbury basin.

SPC Nickel released a maiden estimate of its West Graham Project on Jan. 17, one of two deposits on its Lockerby East nickel and copper property in an area which has seen previous mining operations.

The company said in the news release that West Graham has the potential to be developed quickly as a low-cost, open-pit operation in its initial stages of mining. But with more exploration, West Graham has huge mineral upside at depth.   

This mineral estimate is a “vital step towards unlocking and realizing that potential,” the company said in a news release,

West Graham contains 224.8 million pounds of nickel and 155.0 million pounds of copper in the indicated category, and 86.2 million pounds of nickel and 57.5 million pounds of copper on the inferred side.

The difference between indicated and inferred resources is the degree of confidence in the amount of minerals in the ground, indicated being higher than inferred.

SPC Nickel and its neighbour Magna Mining are two upstart hometown mine developers out to restore two former mining properties back to production in the same area of the basin.

SPC management believes Lockerby East property can be a substantial, top-quality producer in one of the world’s most prolific mining camps.

Early last year, SPC signed  a "co-operation agreement" with Sudbury mining giant Vale to consolidate ownership of two adjacent nickel and copper deposits —SPC’s undeveloped West Graham and Vale’s Crean Hill 3 — into one larger advanced stage exploration project.

The combined properties are situated 20 kilometres west of the city, between the Totten and Creighton mines at the southwest corner of the Sudbury basin. The property also hosts the former Lockerby Mine, which operated from 1970 to 2015.

The deal provides Vale with an opportunity to shed a non-producing asset in Crean Hill 3 while giving SPC a shot at bringing it into production. Should that happen, Vale will see some down-the-road benefits, such as with a net smelter return and royalty on any future profits generated by a mine.

In the past year, SPC has run two rounds of diamond drilling, punching 67 holes over 14,000 metres, to produce this estimate.

The estimate is considered a feather-in-the-cap moment for SPC, previously a privately held company that went public three years ago. 

“To produce a mineral resource estimate within 12 months of signing an agreement to consolidate the asset with Vale in January 2023, is a tremendous achievement by our team," said Grant Mourre, the company's president-CEO in a statement.

Besides being situated in the mineral-rich Sudbury basin, the company points out that the project has many things going into their favour with the local availability of skilled labour, access to power, and transportation and processing infrastructure, such as nickel mills and smelters run by the big miners.

This all points to a “near-term path to production,” Mourre said. The company has not yet provided any timeline on when that might happen.

Their property also features the LKE Deposit (formerly called the Lockerby East Deposit) located 200 metres from the West Graham resource,. It contains high-grade nickel, copper and platinum group metal massive sulphides. A predecessor company on the site, First Nickel, published a historical resource in 2009 which has to be validated by SPC through its own exploration.