North East Scotland
Aberdeen is a global brand. From its position high on the east coast of Scotland, Aberdeen has exerted its influence right around the planet.
A long and proud tradition of invention and discovery – from subsea technology and the discovery of insulin, to treatments for Cystic Fibrosis and even the first MRI scanner – demonstrates a fundamental element of the region’s DNA, to blaze new trails and shape the future for all of humankind. Aberdeenshire is open to the world.
Whilst Aberdeen may be known as Europe’s oil and gas capital, it is so much more. It is at the forefront of a global energy transition to a lower carbon world.
Whilst the offshore geology has provided over 50 years of hydrocarbon production, the story of the onshore mineral wealth is just beginning. The Ordovician-age (485 to 483 million years ago) mafic intrusive suite of North East Scotland is prospective for copper-nickel sulphide deposits and occurs over an area of approximately 10,000 square kilometres.
The region was extensively but not exhaustively explored by Riofinex (“RTZ”) and Consolidated Gold Fields (“CGF”) from as early as 1967 (and as a joint venture – Exploration Ventures Ltd. (“EVL”) from 1969) for reef-type (layered intrusions) copper-nickel mineralisation. Two discoveries resulted from this work at Arthrath and Littlemill:
- Arthrath has a historical estimate of 17 Mt grading 0.21% Ni and 0.14% Cu (not JORC compliant) with higher-grade zones elsewhere within the intrusion; and
- Littlemill has a historical estimate of 3 Mt grading 0.52% Ni and 0.27% Cu (not JORC compliant).
A full targeting study by Aberdeen Minerals concluded that the North East of Scotland is prospective for Ni-Cu-Co (+/- PGE) magmatic sulphide deposits and remains under-explored or unexplored from the perspective of modern dynamic conduit-style deposit models and availability of more advanced geochemical / geophysical surveying techniques and analyses since the historical work was conducted.
A detailed data driven review utilised all available historical datasets to identify regional targets and to reassess the potential of historical prospects. The initial data review and digital acquisition, geostatistical analysis and interpolations were performed on licensed and public domain data acquired from the British Geological Survey (BGS), including large volumes of previous operator survey results.
All of the regional exploration carried out by EVL predated new, dynamic genetic exploration models (processes and tectonic framework), which followed the Voisey’s Bay discovery in 1998 and this “conduit-style” model is considered valid for the Grampian Region of North East Scotland. Conduit-style deposits are now recognized globally – e.g., Voisey’s Bay (Labrador), Kabanga (Tanzania), Eagle (Michigan) and Jinchuan (China).
This dynamic exploration model predicts that mafic-ultramafic intrusions are prospective where they contain olivine-rich gabbro-norites with evidence of assimilation of metasedimentary country rock and sulphide immiscibility. Feeder zones which acted as conduits for large volumes of magma are particularly favourable targets as geometric-velocity decrease trap zones – such favourable lithologies and conduit pulse evidence have been identified at Arthrath.
Aberdeen Minerals has identified twenty-one (21) regional targets recommended for follow up and six (6) targets over the Arthrath intrusion. Targets are based on favourable geology, geochemical surface expression and geophysical responses for magmatic copper – nickel potential. A number of the regional targets identified have surface geochemical surface expression coincident with geophysical responses which may be associated with concealed intrusions.
Aberdeen Minerals will pursue a dual track exploration program of regional heliborne EM surveying with ground EM follow-up and prioritization of the regional targets by geochemical and mineralogical studies. At Arthrath, it is recommended to utilise historical drill core at the BGS, confirmation drilling, ground EM and advanced geochemical techniques to advance the prospect to drill ready exploration targets.