A major nickel discovery near Kalgoorlie highlights that Western Australia's rich mineral potential is still far from being defined, according to Mines Minister George Cash.
The Silver Swan Shoot, a massive high-grade nickel sulphide deposit, is estimated to produce more than $100 million worth of nickel per annum.
Mr Cash said the indicated mineral resource - estimated at approximately 440,000 tonnes at 14 per cent nickel - was the most exciting mineral discovery in WA this year.
"The high quality of this discovery is unprecedented in WA," he said.
"Nickel grades currently mined in Kambalda are less than three per cent."
Mr Cash said this latest discovery of a large mineral deposit in WA highlighted the importance of exploration programs like geochemical mapping - a service provided by the Department of Minerals and Energy to locate potential mineral reserves by the use of aerial photographs and satellite images.
"WA is internationally recognised as a great mineral province and this nickel discovery is proof that the State still has plenty to offer," he said.
"Up-to-date technical information being provided by geochemical mapping assists the private sector's assessment of WA's mineral resources and underlines the fact that its vast geological potential is far from being fully defined."
Australia is the world's second biggest producer of nickel, and WA produces 96 per cent of Australia's total production. In 1994-94 nickel production in WA was worth nearly $1 billion.
"Nickel output in WA is set to reach new heights with new developments on the drawing board which will be boosted by the prospects of a constant supply of cheaper energy in the form of gas from the Goldfields gas pipeline," he said.
"The demand for stainless steel on world markets is also increasing and as nickel is the primary ingredient, the prospects for WA could not be better."
Media contact: Mark Thompson (09) 222 9595