The test work is assessing the potential to process nickel mineralisation using acid leaching.
The processing and upgrading of the nickel had previously been envisaged to be done by froth flotation, a more capital intensive process which was expected to result in recoveries of around 54%.
Should acid leaching prove to be a success, not only could it save URU money and improve the economics of the project, but the explorer reckons nickel recovery could also increase.
“This is an exciting time for the company and we look forward to updating the market on our other projects and corporate developments in the near future,” said chief executive John Zorbas.
Given the “significant changes” to the project’s economics, URU said it made sense to defer the planned drilling until after the metallurgical analysis was completed.
A revised drill programme is then planned for when the results come back.
URU has also started metallurgical test work on magnetite mineralisation that is associated with the nickel at Zebediela.
“The company continues to believe that the magnate mineralisation could provide the potential to generate cash flow prior to the commencement of nickel extraction,” read this afternoon’s update.
The Zebediela project has a combined inferred and indicated mineral resource estimate of 1.5bn tonnes of nickel.
A preliminary economic assessment was completed in 2012 based on a NI 43-101 compliant indicated resource of 485.4mln tonnes at an average grade of 0.245% nickel and an additional inferred resource of 1.12bn tonnes at a grade of 0.248% nickel, using a cutoff grade of 0.1% nickel.
About 58% of the total nickel at the project is contained in the sulphide minerals present within the sulphide zone and therefore potentially recoverable, URU has said.
Shares were down13% on Wednesday afternoon at 2.7p.
That could well be investors taking profits given that the stock has more than quadrupled since the beginning of the year.