URU Metals announced the results of the nickel leach test work programme on the Zebediela Nickel and PGE Project, located in Limpopo, South Africa on Friday.
The AIM-traded company said fresh material from the recent drilling programme was submitted for acid leach test work to assess the amenability of the Zebediela material to percolation leaching with respect to nickel recovery and acid consumption.
Fresh material from diamond drill hole Z017 was submitted to Mintek laboratory in Johannesburg, South Africa, it explained.
Approximately 100 kg of the material was combined and all crushed to pass through 75 micron for iso-pH tests, agitated tank leach amenability tests and chemical head and solid residue assays, with chemical assays performed by ICP-OES.
The oxidative acidic leach test work resulted in a dissolution of 80% nickel after 26 days at a pH of 1.8 and the acid consumption reached 447 kg/t, URU claimed.
It said there would be a secondary process to recover the nickel from the acid leach.
The dissolution of 80% nickel was "extremely positive" for the project, the board said, as it highlighted the potential for acid leaching as a processing method that could save on both capital and operational costs.
URU Metals said it now intended to investigate that further, including the recovery of the nickel from the acid leach.
Based on the result, the company said it would proceed with the next phase of metallurgical test work to investigate ways to reduce the acid consumption further and demonstrate the feasibility of leaching on mineralisation from the Zebediela Project.
"The company is delighted to report these acid leaching results," said CEO John Zorbas.
"We are encouraged by the high nickel dissolution that was achieved in the first phase of the test work programme.
"Combined with the increasing price of nickel, we look forward to the potentially positive effect that the nickel leaching could have on the project economics."
Zorbas said that, due to the nickel successfully dissolving in the solution, the company was now considering it as a potentially lower cost alternative to building a flotation plant.
"The development of a leaching facility could see a reduction in project capital expenditure.
"Our team will continue to evaluate feasible project design options, and additional leaching test work will continue to assess cost-efficient leaching alternatives to improve dissolution."