Australian miner St George Mining has announced the beginning of drilling at its Ajana nickel-copper sulphide project in Western Australia.

The company will drill 17 holes with the aim of conducting around 3,000m of drilling  across the “historically mineralised yet underexplored” West Yilgarn.  

St George believes the project has the potential for a major mineral discovery encompassing nickel, copper and platinum group elements (PGEs). The 17 drill holes will be spread across two target areas in the Northampton mineral field. St George expects the drilling to conclude in four-to-six weeks, with results expected a further four-to-six weeks later.

“Our review of overlooked greenfields opportunities in the West Yilgarn identified an area in the Northampton Mineral Field with very prominent magnetic features but virtually no prior exploration,” said John Prineas, St George chairman.

Prineas continued: “St George completed its own high-resolution magnetic survey at Ajana followed by detailed gravity surveys over two priority targets – the results of which strongly enhanced our initial interpretation that the large magnetic features may be indicative of late-stage, potentially layered mafic intrusions, which are prospective to host significant nickel-copper-PGEs.”

The Ajana project was acquired by St George after a major discovery of nickel, copper and PGEs by fellow Australian miner Chalice Mining at its own Julimar project, also in the West Yilgarn area. Ajana was originally mined for copper and lead-zinc deposits between 1850 and 1973 but has been shut down since then.

Australia accounts for 6% of global nickel production, making it the world’s fifth-largest producer of the metal. Nickel is a core component of some electric vehicle batteries, making Australian nickel vital to the energy transition. The five largest nickel mines in Australia are all located in Western Australia, including the world’s tenth-largest nickel project, Glencore’s Murrin Murrin.