Talon Metals adds three more drill rigs to US nickel project

TSX-listed Talon Metals has expanded its exploration campaign at the Tamarack nickel-copper-cobalt project in the US state of Minnesota, bringing in three extra drill rigs to the site.

The company currently holds a 51% interest in Tamarack, which is the only high-grade development stage nickel project in the US. Rio Tinto is its partner with the remaining 49% shareholding.

The new rigs will be deployed outside the main resource zone and will look to ‘hopefully confirm our geologists’ view that Tamarack is a ‘district scale’ resource similar to other large-scale nickel sulphide districts in Canada and Russia’, chief executive Henri van Rooyen said in a statement.

“The need to secure domestic sources of battery minerals like nickel has grown more urgent,” van Rooyen said. “President Biden, with bipartisan support in Congress, has recently elevated domestic sourcing of battery materials like nickel to a national priority.”

Talon maintains an earn-in option to increase its stake in the project up to 60%. To achieve it, the company is expected to make staged payments totalling US$22.5 million in cash and shares to partner Rio Tinto, spend $10 million on exploration and development, and complete a feasibility study.

Aside from the frenzied 250% price rise in one day last month, nickel’s value has increased exponentially since Tesla’s Elon Musk flagged it as the company’s biggest concern with regards to battery metals supply shortages.

Sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine have added further urgency to secure nickel supplies, since the country holds about 17% of global capacity for refined Class 1 nickel, the type required for electric vehicles.