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Acclaim waits for applause

ACCLAIM Exploration’s summer announcements for its West Musgrave territory have met a surprisingly muted response.

Based on the flurry of activity last year as companies sought to gain a regional foothold, the success of recent regional floats and investor interest in the finds of small exploration companies, one would have expected a more pronounced and sustained response to the news.

Currently the only active explorer in the region, Acclaim is keenly awaiting drilling results from its West Musgrave Wingellina project, near the Western Australian, South Australian and Northern Territory borders, and of which the company is set to acquire full ownership by the end of the month.

Latest results show 144 metres of 1.4 per cent nickel, significantly boosting the total known area of nickel oxide mineralisation in the company’s holdings. But unseasonal rain has meant sample results from six holes drilled in December will not be available until late this month.

In addition, Acclaim has determined a new 10-kilometre long, 650-metre thick unit of nickel sulphide mineralisation in which the company is keen to begin test drilling next month, to prove up indications of mineralisation to considerable depth.

Extension drilling in the nickel oxide mineralisation areas also is planned for February.

Nonetheless, Acclaim ‘s share price has risen to a summer high of just 18 cents, 22 per cent shy of a year high of 23 cents.

While market interest in small explorers making good finds has been strong in the past three months, it seems current favourable sentiment is restricted to hydrocarbon and gold/copper finds.

World nickel prices were positive late last year, but the market remains fundamentally weak with an oversupply expected to continue throughout this year.

While this market could change significantly by the time any Musgrave project begins producing, a troubled processing history for nickel laterites has rendered the local market wary of results that could spell laterite as opposed to commercially viable sulphide reserves.

The Musgrave project is in a remote region with no processing facilities, so Acclaim has sent samples to Nevada to investigate a recovery method using an ambient temperature and pressure leaching approach. The process, developed by BHP has neither been applied to nickel nor used in Australia.

Although Acclaim is at an embryonic stage regionally, chairman Ed Eshuys said such initiative was essential before expending too much time and money on extensive drilling. However, he confirmed the company was ready to step up drilling activity and test work.

“We know the territory contains a very large ore body and there are sulphides in the system, so we’ll be targeting the sulphides at the base of the pile,” Mr Eshuys said.

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