Australian mining exploration company Proto Resources & Investments (ASX: PRW) is accelerating exploration at the company's flagship projects in Tasmania and New South Wales.
In a statement, the company said it had completed a total of 312 aircore drill holes for 2,489m have been completed on the Barnes Hill Project near Beaconsfield.
Aircore drilling will shortly recommence at Barnes Hill to complete the final 200 holes for the resource definition, re-estimation and mine plan.
Proto is also conducting diamond core drilling at the Barnes Hill deposit to provide density data for the upcoming resource estimation. This diamond drilling commenced at the start of this week and will continue until the end of February.
Metallurgical testing on a 300kg sample from the Barnes Hill deposit has commenced to test acid consumption and the metal recovery rate for nickel and cobalt. This data will provide more information for the detailed feasibility and engineering study currently underway in joint venture with Metals Finance Corporation.
The feasibility study is planned to be completed in July of this year.
The company and MFC have commenced work on sourcing project finance for Barnes Hill, subject to the completion of the feasibility study.
The nickel price has firmed above US$18,000 per tonne and Proto believes that this, along with other favourable economic conditions, provides a positive outlook for the Barnes Hill project.
MFC is looking to develop the Lucky Break nickel project in Queensland this year, which will further contribute to an ideal development environment for the Barnes Hill project to commence after the commissioning of Lucky Break.
Further exploration work is scheduled at Barnes Hill West during this quarter to assess the prospectivity of the historic Pandora Copper Mine and to test extensions of the Andersons Creek Ultramafic Complex.
The historic Pandora Mine is located 2km to the west of the Barnes Hill nickel resource.
Proto Chairman Andrew Mortimer said the company had two rigs going at Barnes Hill at present and were very pleased to be doing the work, which will furnish with the resource data needed for the feasibility study.
Proto is pleased to announce that it expects preliminary assay data on the second Lindeman’s Bore diamond drill hole, LBD 2, in the coming weeks. LBD 2 was completed late last year to a depth of 751.6m.
Approximately 200m of core was cut and sampled prior to the Christmas break with assays pending. Proto’s geological team will return to the Northern Territory in early February to log, cut and sample the remaining core from this hole. The LBD 2 hole intersected mafic intrusive rocks beneath sediments of the Proterozoic aged Limbunya Group.