URU Metals updated shareholders and the market on its progress at the Zebediela Nickel Project, located in Limpopo Province, South Africa on Wednesday, confirming it had commenced metallurgical test work to investigate the potential to process the nickel mineralisation using acid leaching.
The AIM-traded firm said processing and upgrading of the nickel was previously envisaged to be done by froth flotation resulting in expected recoveries of around 54% of the total nickel content.
However, the company now believed that, if successful, acid leaching could generate a "significant" capital expenditure saving relative to froth floatation, improving the returns from the project and potentially improving the recoveries of nickel in excess of 54%, further bolstering the project's economics.
Considering the "potentially significant" changes to the project's economics, URU's directors said they felt it was in the company's best interests to defer the commencement of drilling until after the metallurgical analysis was completed.
Infill drilling would be undertaken in order to provide further material for additional metallurgical test work and resource definition.
Alongside that work, URU said it also commenced metallurgical test work on magnetite mineralisation that was associated with the nickel mineralisation.
The company said it continued to believe that the magnate mineralisation could provide the potential to generate cash flow prior to the commencement of nickel extraction.
URU said the Zebediela Nickel Project had a combined inferred and indicated mineral resource estimate of 1.5 billion tonnes of nickel.
A preliminary economic assessment was completed in 2012 based on a NI 43-101 compliant indicated resource of 485.4 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.245% nickel and an additional inferred resource of 1,115.1 million tonnes at a grade of 0.248% nickel, using a cutoff grade of 0.1% nickel.
That mineral resource estimate referred to total contained nickel and around 58% of the total nickel is contained in the sulphide minerals present within the sulphide zone, and therefore potentially recoverable.
"This is an exciting time for the company and we look forward to updating the market on our other projects and corporate developments in the near future," said CEO John Zorbas.