March/April 2008

Hard Creek's Turnagain project attracts attention

By A. Gordon

Turnagain camp

Hard Creek Nickel Corporation’s Turnagain project is attracting a lot of attention. Located in British Columbia — not exactly a province associated with nickel deposits — it is considered one of the largest undeveloped sulphide nickel deposits in the world. Recent resource estimates have put the project at over 1 billion tonnes, utilizing a cut-off grade of 0.10 per cent nickel present in sulphide form.

Although the grade is low, what it lacks in grade it certainly appears to make up for in size. Given the current tight global supply and high prices for nickel, the potential that the deposit might produce significant output for decades to come has helped put the project on the radar as one to watch closely.

Recent discoveries of platinum and palladium with the nickel have also helped to raise the profile of Turnagain. To date, drilling has successfully identified four separate areas with platinum and palladium mineralization. A presence of both high base metals and precious metals is working in the project’s favour.

The Turnagain project is 100 per cent owned by Hard Creek and is located about 1,350 kilometres northwest of Vancouver and 70 kilometres east of Dease Lake. Nickel and copper sulphides were first identified on the property around 1956 and Falconbridge nickel mines completed the initial exploration programs from 1966 to 1973.  Exploration to date on the Turnagain property has included geological mapping, geophysical and geochemical surveys and more than 75,620 metres (248,100 feet) of diamond drilling in 304 drill holes.

A positive preliminary assessment was completed for the project in late 2007 by AMEC Americas Limited. This assessment indicates that the deposit is potentially mineable and has identified that further work is justified. Hard Creek is undertaking additional work in all major areas to advance the project to the pre-feasibility level. Confirmation and availability of the required power for the project has also been identified by AMEC as critical. Hard Creek is aggressively pursuing all possible options for providing sufficient power to make the project feasible. A formal project description will be submitted to government agencies before summer, kicking off the environmental assessment process.

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