Massive Mineral Resource: on 21st Feb 2023, Aston Minerals Ltd released a maiden mineral resource estimate for the Boomerang deposit: 1,044 Mt at 0.27% Ni, 0.011% Co (0.30% Ni equivalent) containing 2.82 Mt of nickel and 115,000 t of cobalt.
Ideal Location: The Edleston project (which includes the Boomerang deposit) is located 60 km by road south of Timmins, or 245 km north of Sudbury, Ontario, a region with a strong mining history (gold, nickel, zinc, lead, etc.), and a Canadian province favourable to mining with regulations that reflect that history. It is surrounded by world-class mining projects, and benefits from widely available skilled labour, engineering services and first world infrastructure, including hydro power.
Good Preliminary Metallurgy: initial metallurgical testing by XPS, a division of Glencore, has confirmed the ability to recover nickel and cobalt sulphide at a saleable product specification with 71.8% Ni recovered to rougher flotation concentrate. The testwork also indicates the production of a nickel concentrate graded 11.3% Ni and 0.37% Co.
Mineral Resource Benchmarking: our research and analysis of undeveloped nickel sulphide deposits worldwide indicates that the Boomerang already sits among the higher-grade deposits among the large low-grade deposits. Beyond the grade, we see the location (jurisdiction, infrastructure, skilled labour and competitive power cost) and the metallurgy as key determinants to progress the project towards development.
Development Studies of Peer Projects: the development studies of peer projects typically indicate large throughput, high capex (beyond US$1 billion), long mine life 25-30 years, low profitability index (NPV/capex close to 1) and relatively low internal rate of return (IRR).
Edleston Gold Deposits: on 21st Feb 2023, ASO announced a maiden mineral resource estimate (MRE) across Edleston Main, Central Zone and Sirola prospects. At a 0.4 g/t Au cut-off grade, the total mineral resource amounts 48.1 Mt at 1.00 g/t Au for 1,500,100 oz Au.
Edleston Gold Potential: the maiden mineral resource represents only 17% or 1.8 km of the strike extent of the prospective geology. Drilling is underway on 1.9 km strike to the east of the MRE. The targets are in the same lithological setting associated with IP chargeability anomalies. The increase in mineral resource is seen as a function of the amount of drilling. Within 12 to 24 months, Edleston gold mineral resource should sit between 3 and 5 million ounces, with further options to grow. The Cadillac Larder Fault Zone hosts the Edleston project as well as multiple significant gold deposits ranging from 3.7 Moz through to 24 Moz.
Potential Gold Development: while the priority at this time is to grow the mineral resource, it is worth noting the presence of gold operations in the vicinity of the Edleston including some treatment plants with spare capacity.
News flow: the key catalysts in the short and medium terms are the releases of further drilling results for both Boomerang and gold deposits part of the Edleston project as well as further metallurgical testwork results. In parallel, some corporate activity could emerge to facilitate the development of the Boomerang deposit.
ASO valuation: our sum of the parts valuation is supported by the current market valuation of large low grade nickel deposits in the same region as Boomerang and gold deposits in the range of 3 to 5 million ounces. We also assumed a capital raising of $18 million (50 million shares at $0.10 + 98 million flow-through shares at $0.14) to complement the existing cash and conversion of options to fund exploration and evaluation programs. As the company increases the mineral resources of its projects and progresses them towards development studies, ASO should approach a price target of $0.26 per share.