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In Northern Uganda, the 100%-owned Kitgum-Pader Base Metals Project contains an intrusive-hosted nickel-copper sulphide discovery at Akelikongo, one of the most significant recent nickel sulphide discoveries globally.
In May 2018 Sipa announced a Landmark Farm-in and JV Agreement with Rio Tinto to underpin accelerated nickel-copper exploration at the Kitgum Pader Base Metals Project in Northern Uganda in which Rio Tinto can fund up to US$57M of exploration expenditure and make US$2M in cash payments to earn up to a 75% interest the project.
Sipa Exploration Uganda Limited (SEUL), which is owned 100% by Sipa Resources Ltd commenced systematic field exploration at Kitgum-Pader in early 2013. Since that time SEUL has taken more than 70,000 geochemical soil samples leading to the discovery of numerous sulphide-derived base and precious metal prospects.
The ability to collect such a large number of samples in such a short time is testament to Sipa's innovative approach to exploration, the availability of skilled Ugandan labour, the effectiveness of being able to undertake commercial activities and the cooperation of all levels of government.
The Kitgum-Pader Project arose from two East African reconnaissance trips by the late Dr Nick Archibald and Mike Doepel in 2010 and 2011, seeking first mover belt-scale exploration opportunities. During 2011 new airborne magnetic/radiometric data sets were obtained for all of Uganda, Rwanda and Western Kenya. These were levelled and stitched to an older Tanzanian data set by Steve Massey, Sipa's Consulting Geophysicist, and a comprehensive geological/geophysical interpretation was undertaken.
Figure 1: Project Location & Tenure.
The Ugandan project is testament to Sipa’s history of greenfields discovery, this time essentially as a ‘first mover’ in a virtually unexplored terrane.
Historical Field Activities
Having effectively established a corporate entity in 2012, SEUL set about recruiting consultants, administrative, geological and support staff. A field base was established in Kitgum town, near the centre of the project and Sipa’s Senior Field Manager in Australia, Bill Willmott, was seconded to SEUL, appointed as a Director of SEUL, and took up residence in Kitgum.
Fieldwork commenced in early 2013 with consultations with various levels of Government and Community Sensitisation meetings to gain ground access and local community support.
Three teams of geochemical samplers started in February, and by December 2013 had taken about 30,000 reconnaissance-scale (1 kilometre by 100 metres) and 11,734 infill (200 metres by 50 metres) at 12 separate anomalies detected by the reconnaissance sampling, thus covering about 2,200 square kilometres.
The geochemical survey was designed and supervised by Dr Nigel Brand. All samples were analysed at the Kitgum base by portable XRF (pXRF), and applying Nigel’s statistical analysis, 1 in 8 samples were shipped to the accredited ACME Laboratories in Vancouver for wet chemical analysis for QA/QC purposes and to test for elements like gold, silver, cadmium and platinum group metals that cannot be accurately determined by pXRF.
During 2012-2013, Dr Nick Archibald undertook some 12 weeks of detailed and regional scale geological mapping and anomaly checking. Steve Massey provided geophysical interpretation assistance.
Tectono-metallogenic Setting of Kitgum-Pader
SEUL contracted Dr Jon Hronsky to provide opinions, and report on the tectono-metallogenic setting of Kitgum-Pader within the African continental context, and in particular provide a detailed assessment of the nickel-copper-PGE prospectivity of the project. Dr Hronsky recognised that:
“This is a geodynamic environment closely analogous to that of the well mineralised PaleoProterozoic Thompson and Raglan Nickel Belts that formed on the margin of the Superior Craton in Canada”
Using recent mapping by the late Nick Archibald and GTK (a consortium of geological organisations from Germany, South Africa and Uganda, led by the Geological Survey of Finland), together with SEUL’s pXRF regional geochemical data and airborne magnetics and radiometrics, Dr Hronsky established a Lithological-Structural Sequence across the northern part of the Kitgum-Pader Project.
In early 2015, mapping and further detailed interpretation of remote data sets was conducted by Brett Davies and Russell Mason, resulting in a new interpretation essentially dividing the area into four lithostratigraphic domains.
Figure 2: New Lithostratigraphic domains interpreted by Davies and Mason 2015.