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13 August 2021 2 min read

Ardea Resources (Ardea) is an ASX-listed resources company with an exclusive focus on West Australian projects. Aided by funding from an SME Connect program, CSIRO worked with Ardea to understand gold and critical mineral behaviour in their Goongarrie nickel laterite deposit, located 70 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie.

Dr Matt Painter from Ardea Resources (left) and Dr Walid Salama from CSIRO (right) examining drilled samples

Dr Matt Painter, Ardea Resources

Matt is an experienced exploration geologist and General Manager, Exploration of Gold at Ardea Resources Ltd

At Ardea we value science and innovation in exploration.

Through general discussion with CSIRO at the RIU Explorers Conference in Perth, we explored how CSIRO could add value through an R&D project at our nickel laterite deposit at Goongarrie.

Our Goongarrie tenement is the largest nickel laterite deposit in the world.

In historical drilling samples we found evidence of gold in the laterite profile; an unusual phenomena which we wanted to understand the significance of.

With the assistance of SME Connect we were able to access CSIRO’s mineral discovery expertise and were matched with Dr Walid Salama and his team.

Walid’s scientific knowledge and experience in understanding weathered terrain combined with his impressive lateral thinking brought new perspectives which have exceeded our expectations.

The studied region showed deep V-shaped laterite mineralisation with associated gold.

Walid came up with novel ideas to see through the weathering profile to indicate the primary structure.

These findings have helped us make the decisions for deeper drilling programs but have now led to a further project with CSIRO.

For Ardea, the work is already providing significant competitive advantages that will take our project studies and exploration efforts in new directions for nickel sulphide and gold exploration.

Based on our experience, working with CSIRO provides a great pathway to unlock exploration value in mineral exploration.

Dr Walid Salama, CSIRO

Walid is a Senior Researcher and Team Leader at CSIRO, with expertise in mineral exploration in weathered and covered terrains

Our SME Connect facilitators paired up my expertise with Ardea’s interest in understanding anomalous features of their nickel laterite deposit at Goongarrie.

In an exceptional finding, gold was found associated with nickel laterite.

This has never been described before and presented a fascinating geological puzzle.

Using a variety of microscopy, mass spectrometry and x-ray diffraction techniques, we examined high grade sections of historic drilling samples taken for the site.

We found secondary gold within the samples indicating the gold had been transported from elsewhere into the nickel laterite.

We also found indicator minerals and elements for gold and nickel sulphides which suggests the likelihood of gold mineralisation beneath the nickel laterite cap.

These findings were able to help Ardea understand the mobility and behaviour of gold and other metals within their nickel laterite deposit and reveal new drilling targets to further develop their project.

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