Talon Metals (TSX: TLO) has released an updated mineral resource estimate for its Tamarack nickel project located in central Minnesota, showing a near doubling of the indicated tonnage and a near seven-fold increase in the high-grade nickel content.
The total indicated resource now stands at approximately 8.56 million tonnes grading 1.73% nickel, containing 148,000 tonnes of nickel. This represents a 98% increase in contained nickel over the most recent estimate (January 2021). Total inferred resource is estimated at 8.46 million tonnes grading 0.83% nickel, containing 70,000 tonnes of nickel.
The high-grade massive sulphide or mixed massive sulphide portion has grown to 1.05 million tonnes grading 4.53% nickel plus in the indicated category, containing 47,000 tonnes of nickel. Compared with the previous estimate, the high-grade nickel has increased by 570% since the 2021 PEA.
According to Talon, the updated (and significantly increased) mineral resource is largely the result of the successful development and deployment of its advanced exploration system (AES), which enabled the company to rapidly conduct in-house exploration programs at the Tamarack project over the past two years.
Exploration using the AES resulted in two new high-grade nickel-copper discoveries, known as the CGO East and CGO West areas, north of the company’s previous resource area. The shallow, high-grade mineralization found within the CGO East and CGO West areas not only provide for growth in the size of the mineral resource (and ultimately resulted in the Tesla-Talon supply agreement), but is also expected to result in an accelerated development pathway for an underground mine, Talon says.
“During the successful discovery and delineation of the high-grade nickel CGO East and CGO West ore bodies, our team of drillers, geophysicists, geologists, engineers and environmental scientists developed a proprietary, advanced exploration system, which is a unique combination of equipment and methods for deployment along the 11-mile Tamarack intrusive complex and in Michigan,” explained CEO Henri van Rooyen.
“The 11-mile Tamarack intrusive complex and Michigan represent extremely prospective and underexplored high-grade nickel districts, primarily due to a lack of the consistent deployment of tailor-made mineral exploration technologies. The AES is to US Midcontinent Rift nickel discovery and delineation what Tesla is to EV: A revolution in successful innovation and deployment,” he added.
Talon’s AES is presently deployed to the north of the current mineral resource area, with a plan for drilling to the south of the mineral resource area during the winter period.
Additionally, the company is preparing for deployment of its AES in Michigan. Talon’s Michigan roll-out will consist of the use of new and innovative surface geophysical techniques on the back of the geological team’s unique understanding of prospective, high-grade nickel targets.
Located 210 km north of Minneapolis and 89 km west of Duluth, the Tamarack nickel project comprises a large land position (18 km of strike length) with high-grade intercepts outside the current resource area. Talon has an earn-in right to acquire up to 60% of the project, and currently owns 51%. Rio Tinto is its joint venture partner.
Earlier in the day, Talon announced that the company been selected as a recipient of the first set of projects funded by US President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.
Talon first submitted its application for the US government funding in July 2022. The application proposed an ore processing and tailings management facility located at an existing industrial brownfields site in Mercer county, North Dakota, that would receive feedstock from the Tamarack underground mine and other potential sources in North America. Acquisition of the preferred site in North Dakota is actively under negotiations.
According to the company, removing the processing facilities from the Tamarack mine site in Minnesota significantly reduces land disturbance and the scope of environmental review and permitting. Both facilities will undergo the science based permitting process in both states that include an opportunity for public comment and government-to-government consultations with tribal sovereign governments.
The proposed separation of mine and processing operations will create a new domestic battery grade nickel and iron production capability designed to meet the timelines set in both the Biden Administration’s national blueprint for lithium batteries, Talon says.
On a cost-share basis and subject to final negotiations, the US Department of Energy will provide a grant totalling $114 million grant (estimated to be 27% of total project cost) towards project construction and execution costs for the North Dakota battery minerals processing facility.
Shares of Talon Metals surged 19.2% as of market close Wednesday on the back of the project funding, giving the company a market capitalization of C$451.5 million.