Minago Nickel project is a planned mining project located on the Thompson Nickel Belt in the province of Manitoba in Canada.

The project was acquired by Silver Elephant Mining from Victory Nickel in February 2021. The property is now owned by a nickel sulphide mining and exploration company Flying Nickel Mining, which was spun out from Silver Elephant Mining in January 2022.

According to the company, Minago project hosts one of the world's largest high-grade open pit optimised nickel sulphide deposits in the world with measured and indicated mineral resource of nearly 721.58 million pounds (mlbs).

The Minago Feasibility Study commenced in the late first quarter of 2022. The results are scheduled to be announced in 2023. Project construction is expected to continue to 2025 with first concentrate shipment expected in 2026.

Location and site details

The Minago Nickel platinum group metals (PGM) Project is located in northern Manitoba within the southern Thompson Nickel Belt in Canada.

The property is situated approximately 107km north of Grand Rapids Town and 225km south of Thompson City.

The project is accessible via Highway 6, a major transportation route to northern Manitoba including Thompson. A high-voltage (230 kV) transmission line also transects the project area.

Overall, Minago project includes 94 mining claims covering 192.36km2 (19,236 hectares) of area and two mining leases totalling 4.25km2 (425 hectares).

As of July 2021, the company has not identified any known legal, political, environmental, or other risks that may affect potential future development of the Minago Project.

Ownership History

The project started as Geophysical Reservation 34 (GR 34) covering 19.2km by 38.4km area. It was granted to Amax Potash in November 1966 for two years and then extended to 30 April 1969.

In March 1969, Amax converted the most prospective area into 844 contiguous claims and additional 18 claims were staked in April 1969.

On 12 December 1973, an agreement was signed and Granges Exploration Aktiebolag got an option on the Explored Area Leases. Granges became a passive partner in 1977 with 25% interest and 0.5% NSR royalty in the leases.

Black Hawk Mining purchased Amax interest in the explored area leases in May 1989 and Granges interest with NSR royalty in August 1989.

In April 1992, the Explored Area Lease 3 and 4 were converted to Mineral Lease 002 and 003 respectively.

Nuinsco Resources and its successor Victory Nickel acquired the Black Hawk interest subject to royalty based on nickel prices in November 1999. The two companies conducted multiple exploration and diamond drilling programmes on the Project from 2005 to 2012.

In August 2011, the Minago Project secured the Environment Act License (EAL).

Geology and Mineralisation

The geology of the region comprises the Phanerozoic sediments of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin overlying Precambrian crystalline basement rocks including the Thompson Nickel Belt.

The early Proterozoic rocks are geologically distinguishable stratigraphic rock sequence called Opswagan Group, which hosts nickel deposits of the Thompson Nickel Belt.

Most of the deposits are found within lower Pipe Formation rocks.

Lower grade nickel is found between and adjacent to the higher‐grade lenses. Usually, nickel sulphides are fine grained and occur as disseminated crystals and small aggregates.

The dominant sulphide is nickel bearing pentlandite with the project also containing violarite and millerite. Minor amounts of pyrite, pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite are also found at the property.

Mineral resource estimate

According to the Technical Report on the Mineral Resource Estimate for the Minago Nickel Project, effective date 2 July 2021, the project holds measured and indicated resource of 44.2 million tonnes grading 0.74% Ni (722 million lbs contained nickel).

Inferred resource stands at 19.6 million tonnes also grading 0.74% Ni (319 million lbs contained nickel).

The project has an open pit measured and indicated resource of 23.9 million tonnes grading 0.71% Ni, while underground measured and indicated resource is 20.3 million tonnes grading 0.77% Ni.

The mineral resource estimate includes two zones of nickel mineralisation- the Nose Zone and North Limb Zone and is based on validated results of 202 diamond drill holes (86,118m).

Mining and ore processing

The Minago mine has ‘reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction’ by open pit and underground mining methods.

As of February 2022, Flying Nickel is yet to complete any mineral processing and metallurgical testing programmes for the project.

Historical metallurgical testing programmes were assessed to generate the process design criteria. This includes providing a grinding circuit design, a flotation flowsheet, dewatering of flotation products for sale, and a head grade versus recovery curve for economic evaluation.

The flowsheet developed includes a primary gyratory crusher for generating SAG mill feed at 130nm; a SAG mill circuit with a pebble crusher; a ball mill circuit for producing flotation feed at 80% passing (P80) of 68um; a flotation circuit with a rougher circuit, two stage cleaning and scavenging in a scavenger circuit.

It also includes a concentrate dewatering circuit with a thickener and pressure filter, and a tailings thickener to produce final tails for deposition.

Contractors Involved

The Mineral Resource Estimate of the Minago Nickel PGM Project was prepared by Mercator Geological Services. AGP Mining Consultants offered pit optimisation and associated services in support of the mineral resource estimate programme.

Stantec offered site visit and professional support on environmental permitting review.

Several entities are associated with the feasibility study, the commissioning of which commenced in late Q1 2022.

AGP Mining Consultants offered support regarding pit optimisation and mineral reserves, Mercator Geological Services for geology and mineral resource, and Trek Geotechnical was hired for geotechnical, tailings and waste management.

In January 2023, Flying Nickel selected SGS Canada for assaying platinum, palladium, and gold from 97 past drill holes from Minago project.

In September 2022, Flying Nickel Mining said that the Minago Nickel Sulphide project is expected to have lower carbon footprint than 99% of existing global nickel production. It will produce 0.99 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of nickel-equivalent production over the life of mine, compared to an industry average of 33.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2021.

The carbon footprint data was provided by Skarn Associates.