Mine sleuths keen for their nickel – by Paul Garvey (The Australian – September 2, 2014)


BILL Amann and Adrian Black have been involved in many of the key nickel discoveries in Australia’s recent history, but the pair has one major regret: not loading up with shares in the companies for which they were working.

The exploration resumes of the two geology and geophysics consultants make for impressive reading. Their consultancy, Newexco, was involved in the early stages of major nickel discoveries such as Western Areas’ Spotted Quoll and Flying Fox deposits and the barnstorming Nova nickel discovery of Sirius Resources.

Their work has helped create billions in shareholder wealth, but their exposure to those riches has generally been limited to their consulting fees.

Now the pair is backing themselves to continue their magic run of exploration success, and have opted to ease their long-held policy of not taking shares in their clients.

The Newexco founders are taking shares in little-known company Mining Projects, a minnow gearing up for a nickel exploration program east of Kalgoorlie. So far, Mining Projects has found little love beyond the ­technical boffins — it has a paltry market capitalisation of just $10 million.

But Mr Amman and Mr Black believe Mining Projects’ flagship Roe Hill prospect has all the right ingredients to produce Western Australia’s next nickel discovery.

They are joined by Poseidon Nickel general manager of geol­ogy Neil Hutchison, himself involved in nickel discoveries at the Win­darra and Cosmos projects.

He has been appointed to the Mining Projects board in the ­expectation of boosting the company’s technical capacity.

The dream is for yet another significant nickel discovery that can help ease the lingering regrets about the missed opportunities in the past.

“We’ve had a couple of bad moments,” Mr Amman says. “Western Areas went from around 14c and ended up at $11.99 at the peak.

“And we’ve seen Sirius go from a cent to as high as $4.09. It makes you feel very sick.” Newexco’s role in the original Nova discovery is little known.

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