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The Talon Metals team – working hard to keep the company growing.SUPPLIED

It could be said that when it comes to perseverance, mineral explorers are in a class of their own – and those who work for junior exploration companies are at the top of the class, often spending years in the field before finding what they are looking for.

Talon Metals Corp. (TSX:TLO) is a good example. The company conducted due diligence on over 850 projects before identifying the Tamarack high-grade Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Project in the U.S. state of Minnesota, which, at the time, was 100 per cent owned and operated by Kennecott Exploration (part of the Rio Tinto Group).

Talon’s president Sean Werger describes the project as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.

“The grades and size potential were extremely impressive,” he says. “Seeing 6 to 8 per cent nickel is not something you see very often, if ever.”

In March last year, Talon announced an option agreement with Rio Tinto, whereby Talon has the right to earn up to a 60 per cent interest in the Tamarack Project.

Mr. Werger says the novel deal structure, whereby Rio Tinto is allowing a junior exploration company to operate one of its projects, is a definite stamp of approval for the Talon team.

Rio Tinto is also allowing Talon to use some of its employees from the Tamarack Project on a full-time basis, illustrating the Rio Tinto’s continued support for the project.

Talon’s CEO Henri van Rooyen says Talon Metals is far more than just another junior exploration company.

“We have the distinct advantage of an experienced, local team and many years’ worth of quality data collected by Rio Tinto to help move a high-grade project through to feasibility study,” he says.

So far, Talon has announced a resource of approximately eight million tonnes (combined inferred and indicated) at an average grade of 2.26 per cent NiEq. However, says Mr. van Rooyen, this resource – which sits on only 800 metres of 18 kilometres of intrusions – may only be the beginning.

He points out that approximately 1.6 kilometres to the northeast of the resource area, Rio Tinto intercepted 1.63 metres of 9.33 per cent nickel, and additional high-grade intercepts a kilometre south of the resource area.

Talon believes its timing is excellent due to the expected nickel deficit in the coming years, as demand for the metal to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles ramps up, resulting in higher nickel prices.

But Mr. van Rooyen says the key factor that differentiates Talon from its competitors is that it is not reliant on growth in the electric vehicle market to succeed.

“We believe the nickel concentrates produced from the Tamarack Project will likely be sought out for both the stainless steel and automobile markets,” adds Mr. van Rooyen.

Since announcing its deal with Rio Tinto, Talon completed an oversubscribed financing of $11-million in August 2019 and has been in discussions with several potential off-takers, including nickel producers, automobile manufacturers and battery manufacturers, he says.

The company also recently announced the commencement of an exploration program at Tamarack to better define the high-grade mineralized zone – which typically runs at 4 to 8 per cent nickel – by converting resources from inferred to indicated with the goal of progressing the project to a pre-feasibility study. The company is also utilizing various geo physical techniques to identify new discoveries at Tamarack.

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Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.