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Nickel resources grow at Timmins exploration site

Aston Minerals endowed with both gold and nickel deposits at its Edleston Project
Drill rig at Aston Minerals' Edleston Project

A promising new nickel sulphide project in the Timmins area is growing in size and tonnage. 

Aston Minerals has released a new mineral estimate of its two deposits at its Edleston Project, showing a 44 per cent bump in the indicated nickel and cobalt resource over last year's calculation.

The Australian company is carrying out technical work to determine if its leading Bardwell deposit can be economically mined.

Edleston, situated 60 kilometres south of Timmins, is similar to Canada Nickel’s Crawford Project, north of the city, in that it’s a huge tonnage but low-grade ore property.

The indicated resource now sits at 231 million tonnes grading 0.27 per cent nickel and 0.011 per cent cobalt, up 44 per cent compared to Aston’s first estimate posted in February 2023. The inferred tonnage has grown by 17 per cent to 1.0 million tonnes at 0.27 per cent nickel and 0.011 per cent cobalt.

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

The total tonnage of both deposits increased 22 per cent to 1.3 million tonnes grading 0.27 per cent nickel and 0.011 per cent cobalt. Estimated contained metals are 7.4 billion pounds of nickel and 297,624 pounds of cobalt.

Edleston initially started out as a gold project —  with 1.5-million ounces already identified in the ground — until the company discovered nickel and cobalt on the property in September 2021. 

Nickel has now taken centre stage due to its importance as a critical mineral.

Through more than 32,000 metres of exploration drilling, Aston has outlined a boomerang-shaped nickel and cobalt sulphide system containing the two deposits, dubbed B2 and Bardwell.

Aston thinks Bardwell can be an open-pit mine with mineralization coming close to the surface. It will be receiving the bulk of the attention this year.

Metallurgical testing is underway to gain a better understanding of the deposit and to improve the mineral recoveries before the company shifts into the basic engineering scoping study of what a mine might look like.

The company says there’s more potential at depth and along strike.

“The maiden resource declared in February 2023 gave Aston a strong foundation to continue to build on its technical knowledge about the Boomerang nickel-cobalt sulphide deposit,” said Russell Bradford, Aston’s managing director, in a statement.

“The drilling program put together in 2023 had two objectives and these have both been successfully met."

The company said its B2 deposit looks just as promising as Bardwell. Drilling last year extended the nickel zone by 500 metres along strike and to a depth of 450 metres. Aston said follow-up drilling is in the cards to convert mineralized material from inferred over to the indicated category.

Bradford added: “The information being generated gives potential strategic partners and government agencies in the critical minerals space an understanding of what potentially such a significant large-scale mineral deposit this can become.”

Bradford is part of new leadership team, with mine development experience, that was brought on board a year ago to advance the property toward production.