In a recent presentation at the Metals Investor Forum, Gregory Beischer, a seasoned geologist and the driving force behind Alaska Energy Metals, shed light on the company’s vision, the potential of its Nikolai Project, and why nickel is the metal of the future.
A Personal Journey Back to Nikolai
For Beischer, the Nikolai Project is more than just another venture; it’s a trip down memory lane. In the 1990s, fresh in his career as a geologist, Beischer was dispatched by Inco, a colossal nickel mining company originating from Sudbury, Ontario, to explore the Nikolai site in Alaska. The goal was clear: search for large massive sulfide nickel deposits. The Nikolai site was specifically selected due to its geological resemblance to the Neurilsk area in Russia, a region known for housing one of the world’s largest nickel sulfide accumulations.
However, the Nikolai exploration, despite revealing nickel presence, didn’t unearth high-grade deposits, which led Inco to abandon the project. But for Beischer, the Alaskan allure was irresistible. He decided to stay, dedicating three decades to Alaskan exploration. The recent reincarnation of the Nikolai Project under Alaska Energy Metals is a testament to Beischer’s unwavering belief in its potential.
Nickel: From Stainless Steel to Driving the EV Revolution
Traditionally, nickel’s primary utility has been in the creation of stainless steel alloys. A hint of nickel, when combined with iron, enhances its resistance to rust, making it an indispensable element in various applications ranging from kitchen sinks to large pipes.
However, the dawn of the electric vehicle (EV) era has catalyzed a paradigm shift in nickel demand. With an average EV housing about 29 kilograms of nickel, the demand trajectory for this metal is skyrocketing. This sentiment is echoed by agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy, which forecasts nickel (alongside lithium) to emerge as critical elements with potential supply risks in the near future. Beischer, with his forward-looking lens, underscores nickel’s importance, placing it even above lithium in terms of criticality. He believes that while the mineral exploration industry is efficiently addressing the lithium demand, nickel’s inherent rarity, especially in rich concentrations, presents a challenge.
There is 29 kg or 64 pounds of nickel in every average EV battery
Nikolai Project: A Giant with High Ambitions
Beischer’s presentation painted a vivid picture of the Nikolai Project’s vastness. The mineralized zone, characterized by its remarkable homogeneity and continuity, spans up to 12 kilometres. The company is aiming for nickel equivalent reserves of two billion pounds or more, translating to an estimated nickel equivalent value nearing $40 billion at current levels.
While the grade might seem low at first glance, Beischer emphasized that Nikolai’s grade surpasses many of its peers. Moreover, its potential size could dwarf other known deposits. Drawing parallels with industry giants like Canada Nickel, Beischer expressed confidence in Alaska Energy Metals’ ascent in market valuation, foreseeing it matching, if not surpassing, its peers in the near future.
“…We’ve drilled these holes shown in Blue we’re going to calculate that volume of rock shown in red and then a tonnage from that and if the very homogeneous historic grade of 0.35 nickel equivalent persists will have more than a billion pounds of nickel in an inferred maiden resource which we plan to announce by next march…”
Strategic Exploration and Future Prospects
The immediate strategy revolves around extensive drilling, resource calculation, and leveraging historical data to expedite the process. Beischer’s roadmap includes announcing an inferred maiden resource by next March, with two separate earlier resource calculations by late October 2023, thanks to the recently acquired historical data.
But the vision doesn’t stop at low-grade deposits. Beischer hinted at the tantalizing possibility of discovering high-grade massive sulfide deposits akin to Neurilsk, amplifying the project’s potential manifold.
Gregory Beischer’s presentation wasn’t just an introduction to a company or a project; it was a glimpse into the future of nickel exploration. With the Nikolai Project at its helm, Alaska Energy Metals is poised to play a pivotal role in the global EV revolution. For investors, industry aficionados, and environmentalists, the company’s journey is one to watch, as it promises not just returns, but a sustainable future powered by responsible mining.
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