The discovery is unusual because the nickel is found in small balls up to 3mm in diameter of a high purity in shallow soils in what could be the surface expression of a much bigger hard-rock nickel field.
The nickel balls, rumoured to grade better than 90 per cent nickel and thought to be a world first given their widespread distribution, offer the potential for early cashflow from a simple and low-cost screening operation to fund a full assessment of the find that has exploration circles buzzing.
Details on the find are sketchy. When asked to comment last week, Mr Morgan would only say it was for the Nigerian government to make an announcement.
Nickel is no stranger to the Liberal Party bulwark and former Reserve Bank board member. Between 1990 and 2003 he was chief executive of Western Mining Corporation (taken over by BHP Billiton in 2005) when it was Australia’s biggest nickel producer.
What is known is that Nigeria’s Minister for Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi, is listed to speak at the three-day Africa Down Under mining conference at Perth’s Pan Pacific Hotel next month, with past conferences drawing bumper crowds.
Dr Fayemi is to speak first on Wednesday September 7, and Mr Morgan will follow along with consulting geologist Louisa Lawrance. Mr Morgan is listed as speaking as a director of the private company Comet Minerals.
The discovery, Titan, is rumoured to be close to Dangoma, a small farming town about 160km northeast of the Nigerian capital of Abuja. Dr Fayemi is one of 13 African mines ministers to attend this year’s Africa Down Under, reflecting the importance African nations place on attracting Australian mining expertise and funding for mining.
Nigeria itself has a stated ambition to grow its mining sector as an offset to its dependence on the oil industry, which has been ravaged by the slump in prices.
It has said it wants to attract billions of dollars of new investment in the sector, a push that could benefit from likely international interest in the Titan find by Mr Morgan’s private syndicate.
Earlier this month, Dr Fayemi told Bloomberg that about $US5 billion would “kickstart the mining sector”.
“In two to five years, we want to have started production of iron ore, lead, zinc, bitumen, nickel, coal and gold at a serious scale,” he said.
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