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Discovery and Evaluation of the Weda Bay Nickel/Cobalt Deposits Central Halmahera, Indonesia


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Author G C Cock and J E Lynch


The Weda Bay nickel and cobalt laterite deposits on Halmahera Island, Republic of Indonesia were first drilled in May 1996 by Strand Minerals Pte Ltd (Strand). Subsequent exploration has delineated four large laterite provinces, parts of which have been diamond drilled to outline an indicated nickel resource of 59.9 Mt of 1.51 per cent Ni and 0.09 per cent Co within a total indicated and inferred resource of 117 Mt of 1.36 per cent Ni and 0.12 per cent Co.

The project is held as a Seventh Generation Contract of Work (COW) by PT Weda Bay Nickel, which is jointly owned by Strand (90 per cent) and PT Aneka Tambang (ten per cent). Strand is a wholly owned subsidiary of Weda Bay Minerals Inc, a company listed on the Toronto and Alberta Stock Exchanges in Canada.

Halmahera is located in the north-eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago at the convergent junction of three major plates and is a region of considerable tectonic and geological complexity. The western arms of Halmahera form a classic volcanic island arc while the central region and eastern arms contain ophiolite complexes and interlayered sediments.

The extensive areas of laterite discovered at Weda Bay have developed over serpentinised harzburgites and dunites of pre-Cretaceous age. Weathering of these rocks has produced laterite profiles that are enriched in nickel and cobalt. There are three economically mineralised laterite types, namely limonites, ferruginous saprolites and saprolites and all are amenable to rapid pressure acid leaching with recoveries of 98 per cent nickel and 94 per cent cobalt in less than 20 minutes.