Exploration

Strategy

NAP is committed to increasing the value of its Lac des Iles (LDI) property through exploration success. The Company maintains a three-tiered exploration strategy that encompasses:

  1. Mineral Reserves replacement on the property through extension and conversion drilling adjacent to the principal mining areas;
  2. Mineral Resource additions from underground and surface targets on other parts of the property; and,
  3. Delineation of new Mineral Resources on other intrusions and properties in the immediate vicinity of the mill.

The Company has systematically acquired mineral rights over all known LDI-suite intrusions. In addition, it holds a 50% interest in the past-producing Shebandowan nickel property and in 2017, acquired an Option to earn a 75% interest in the advanced exploration-stage Sunday Lake platinum-palladium-copper project. These strategic land holdings, combined with its core asset at LDI, provide the Company with a highly prospective, well-balanced exploration portfolio in a low-risk jurisdiction.


Location of NAP’s exploration properties (green solids) in the Thunder Bay region, northwestern Ontario.

Lac des iles mine property

ADDING VALUE AT LOW COST

Exploration is central to the LDI operation. Based on their structurally-controlled sub-vertical orientation, unusually large thickness and atypical, selective enrichment in palladium relative to platinum, the LDI PGE deposits are truly one-of-a-kind. Sustained investment in near-mine exploration continues to deliver timely resource additions that derive from continually improving geological models.

Two major feeder structures are believed to have provided the critical pathways for palladium-rich magma to form the South LDI Complex, which hosts all past and present Mineral Resources on the property. Sulfides and palladium were concentrated within and directly adjacent to these structures. The LDI carrier magmas had strong geochemical similarities to the noritic magmas that produced the Merensky and UG2 reefs and the Platreef deposit in South Africa’s Bushveld platinum mining district. At LDI, the two principal ore zones are the semi-continuous Roby and Offset zones. In the central parts of both zones, palladium grades commonly average 4 g/t over true widths of 10–30 metres with maximum mining widths in the new SLS mining area reaching 100 metres. The highest-grade parts of the Roby and Offset zones exceed 10 g/t Pd over true widths of several metres. The Roby-Offset ore body remains open to the south and at depth. Satellite zones to the main deposit include the recently discovered Mystery Zone and the past-producing Twilight Zone.

UNDERGROUND EXPLORATION TARGETS

Current exploration programs are focused on adding resources directly adjacent to the underground reserves. Specific targets are shown on the longitudinal section, below.

Longitudinal projection of the Offset Zone deposit, looking west, and showing the current priority underground exploration targets on the Property, including: (1) Offset South; (2) Camp Lake; (3) B2 Zone extension (3) Mystery Zone; (5) Deep footwall to Offset Zone.

SURFACE EXPLORATION TARGETS

High-priority, near-surface exploration opportunities include the Shorty-Baker and Creek Zone targets in the northeastern part of the complex and shown on the map, below.

Plan view image of the Lac des Iles Mine Property showing the current, top-priority surface exploration target areas in the eastern part of the property (red stars) and recent drill hole collar locations (green circles) for the ongoing surface exploration program in the southern part of the property.

DEPOSIT MODEL

The revised LDI deposit model is described in detail in the October 2018 Technical Report. It involves three main stages that produced four main magmatic series as shown on the map, above.

Stage 1: Emplacement of barren, iron-rich magmas in the central and eastern part of the South LDI Complex, producing the Gabbronorite Series.
Stage 2: High-energy injection of water-rich noritic magmas transported palladium-rich copper-nickel sulfides into the South LDI Complex. The mineralized magmas separated during flow to form the magnesium-rich Norite Series and the aluminum-rich Breccia Series. Palladium mineralization occurs preferentially along the contacts between the Norite Series and the Breccia Series.
Stage 3: Intrusion of sodium- and potassium-rich magmas, producing the Diorite Series.

Greenfields Exploration

NAP’s greenfields properties comprise over 43,000 hectares of land covering all of the known LDI suite intrusions. All of the properties occur within 30km of the LDI mill. NAP’s unique status as the only primary PGE producer in Canada provides a major competitive advantage in terms of maintaining exploration activity on its 100%-owned greenfields projects over multi-year timeframes. Many of the greenfields properties are already known to host near-surface occurrences of palladium mineralization having strong similarities to the main mineralized zones at LDI. NAP’s advanced understanding of the controls on PGE mineralization at LDI will be leveraged to pursue future, value-creative discoveries of on its attractive greenfields property portfolio.

OTHER PROPERTIES

SUNDAY LAKE PROPERTY

On June 20, 2017, NAP announced it had signed a Definitive Option Agreement with Impala Platinum Holdings Limited and Transition Metals Corp for the exclusive right to acquire a 75% ownership position in the Sunday Lake Project located near Thunder Bay, Ontario. Sunday Lake is approximately 2,600 hectares of mineral claims and patents located approximately 95km from Lac des Iles. The Project is focused on a recently discovered platinum-group metal deposit hosted by the Sunday Lake mafic-ultramafic intrusion. NAP announced positive results from its first drilling program at Sunday Lake in a news release dated March 27, 2018.

SHEBANDOWAN JOINT VENTURE

NAP retains a 50% interest in the Shebandowan nickel-copper-PGE property with its partner, Vale Canada Ltd. The Shebandowan Mine was in semi-continuous production between 1972 to 1998 and shipped nickel concentrate to Inco Ltd. smelters in Thompson & Sudbury. The property is located 90 km west of Thunder Bay and includes the past producing Shebandowan nickel mine and the Shebandowan West nickel deposit.