There was only one way to meet future demand for clean energy metals, according to St George Mining executive chairman John Prineas, and that’s through more exploration and project development driven by high incentive prices for metals in the long-term.
Speaking in the afternoon of day one of Paydirt’s Australian Nickel Conference, Mr Prineas pointed to recent forecasts by Goldman Sachs that US$150 billion of investment was required in new copper projects if net zero targets were to be met, with a copper price needed to incentivise this investment in the order of US$13,000 per tonne.
“The same supply and demand thematic will apply across the suite of clean energy metals, including nickel and lithium, so it’s going to be a great time going forward for a decade, or double decade, for mining companies and their shareholders,” he said.
If those market condition play out, it is good news for the multi-project Western Australian clean energy metals explorer St George Mining.
“We are all about exploration and discovery, which is down to our technical team of Julian Hanna and Charles Wilkinson. Both gentlemen were at Western Areas when that company made discoveries and become the number one independent nickel producer in Australia,” Mr Prineas said.
Mt Alexander is the company’s flagship project, where it has discovered high-grade Nickel-Copper-PGE mineralisation near-surface with some new, large-scale drill targets identified. The project is also prospective for lithium pegmatite mineralisation.
Located in an established mining district west of Leonora in WA’s North Eastern Goldfields, Mt Alexander’s neighbours include BHP’s flagship nickel mines.
“Mt Alexander is a really good address for both nickel and lithium, it’s in an established mining region, we are not out in the middle of the desert, we don’t have to come up with $300 million in infrastructure, there is existing infrastructure we can tap into with a clear pathway to market,” Mr Prineas said.
“You probably all know about our great discoveries out there already, being high grade, fresh nickel-copper sulphides at shallow depths. It basically starts at about 20-30 metres below surface.
“We have found four clear discoveries across 5.5 kilometres, they don’t unfortunately bulk-out to be deposits. We haven’t drilled them out completely and we are hoping we can actually monetise them because they are so high grade and shallow, but the trick is to find one of the big deposits.
“So, we have stepped back a little bit and tried to focus on some of the under-explored and unexplored areas of the Mt Alexander project. Geophysics is a key tool, with seismic surveys to map the host structures and electromagnetic surveys to try and line up those conductive bodies that could be nickel sulphide targets.”
One area at Mt Alexander that is starting to deliver promise of a larger discovery is the granite-greenstone contact within the project. Deposits in analogue geological settings are usually blind from surface due to the thickness of granite cover over the mineralisation.
“The seismic is telling us there is a very big reflector down there, it is a little bit too deep we think to be picked up by the EM, but there is certainly something down there, as a minimum greenstone, but it could have mineralisation there as well.”