Making a game-changing minerals discovery has a huge impact on a mining company and its shareholders – and in some cases it can also be an industry-changing event.
In the case of Chalice Mining (ASX: CHN), the company’s first maiden drill hole at the Julimar Project in Western Australia (WA) couldn’t have been more dramatic.
When the company announced on 23 March 2020 that it had drilled an intersection, which assayed at 19m @ 8.4g/t palladium (Pd), 2.6% nickel (Ni) and 1.0% copper (Cu), the world of the previously little-known junior explorer – and that of its neighbours – changed dramatically.
One of the top performing companies on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) All Ordinaries in 2020, with more than 2,000% Total Shareholder Return (TSR), Chalice’s market cap rocketed from A$60.29M on 28 February 2020 to ~A$1.51B on 1 March 2021. As of 13 May 2021, the company’s market cap is ~A$2.56B.
Chalice’s Julimar find was also quickly identified as Australia’s first major palladium discovery, opening the door to a new mineral play in an area of WA which most miners had chosen to ignore in the past.
While Julimar is located just 70km north-east of Perth, one the world’s leading mining cities, prior to Chalice’s arrival the area had never been explored for platinum group elements (PGEs), nickel and copper with geological mapping of the area limited due to extensive transported cover.
Now the area is the epicentre of a stampede of interest, with companies from around the globe looking to benefit from a minerals new play identified on the edge of the Yilgarn Craton. And Chalice continues to lead the way after initially identifying the Julimar area in 2018 as part of its global search for high-potential nickel sulphide exploration opportunities.
Chalice initially interpreted two potential “feeder” zones within the Julimar Complex as initial areas of interest – one situated at the southern end of the complex on private farmland (the Gonneville Intrusion) and the other situated mid-way along the complex within the Julimar State Forest. The large complex is now interpreted to be ~26km long and has been confirmed as highly prospective for nickel, copper and PGEs.
The company is now flat-out on expanding the Julimar potential, lodging around 8,000km2 of new licence applications since the discovery (including over 2,300km2 around Julimar), while continuing to make promising new discoveries.
This success in a newly discovered play in a world-class mining jurisdiction, naturally led to a new rush of miners from around the world heading to WA to stake their place in this exciting new exploration opportunity.
Pursuit Minerals (ASX: PUR) recently joined the hunt for PGEs and nickel-copper mineralization on the edges of the Yilgarn Craton, with the posting of an application for two exploration licences covering 404km2 which comprise the Combatant PGE-Ni-Cu Project.
Pursuit says the discovery of PGE-Ni-Cu mineralization on the Julimar Project in 2020 and Sirius Resources’ Nova project to south, demonstrate that the margins of the Yilgarn Craton hold the potential for significant new world-class discoveries.
Pursuit’s main target, the Combatant Project, is situated approximately 270km northeast from Geraldton and 210km west of Meekatharra, within the geological province which has been demonstrated to host mafic and ultramafic rocks that contain significant PGE-Nickel-Copper-Gold mineralization, including the Irrida Hill Project.
Liontown Resources Limited (ASX: LTR) recently significantly increased its exploration footprint near its 100%-owned Moora Projectin the emerging Julimar Mineral Province after executing a Binding Term Sheet which gives it the right to acquire a 51% interest in the adjacent Koojan Project from Lachlan Star Limited.
The agreement with Coobaloo means that Liontown has more than doubled its exposure to the highly prospective region, increasing the area available for the company to explore from 467km2 to 1,068km2.
Liontown’s first Reverse Circulation hole at the Moora Projectreturned outstanding high- grade gold assay results in early March.
The hole intersected a broad zone of bedrock gold mineralization comprising 44m at 1.6g/t from 200m down-hole, including significantly higher-grade zones of 20m at 3.2g/t gold from 208m and 4m at 10.1g/t gold from 220m.
Mandrake Resources Limited (ASX: MAN) is preparing to test the Newleyine prospect, which has been characterized as a potential Julimar-style ultramafic target.
Drilling will test three discrete late-time EM bedrock anomalies that geophysical interpretation suggests could be the response of massive sulphides consistent with Julimar-style PGE-Ni-Cu mineralization.
Newly listed Mamba Exploration Limited (ASX: M24) has identified 13 “late time” electromagnetic bedrock conductors in its initial work chasing Julimar style potential at the Darling Range Project on the western margin of the Yilgarn Craton.
The “late time” bedrock VTEM Max conductors are associated with magnetic anomalies that are consistent with signatures of mafic or ultramafic rocks. These are known to host PGE-Ni-Cu sulphide mineralization in the region – including at the Gonneville intrusion on the Julimar Project.
The Julimar excitement has also generated an expanded search for other PGE-Ni-Cu opportunities in WA.
Scorpion Minerals Limited (ASX: SCN) recently confirmed that a further review of historic open-file exploration data has identified three high-priority PGE-Ni-Cu targets within the Pharos Project area located approximately 50km northwest of Cue in the Murchison Mineral Field.
The three target areas were identified during a comprehensive technical review of previous exploration results from several companies targeting Mafic/Felsic volcanic-hosted Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide (VMS) Cu-Zn-Ag-Au mineralization in the areas adjacent to the Mt Mulcahy “South Limb Pod” deposit.
Meanwhile, Enegex Ltd (ASX: ENX) has been particularly aggressive in snapping up land in the hunt for PGEs in WA.
The company was recently granted a further eight exploration licences in the South West Terrane and now owns 18 granted licences totalling 3,460km2, and has two remaining application areas pending.
Enegex’s South West Terrane project presently comprises five separate project areas, located proximal to Perth and all within 200km of Chalice Mining’s Julimar Ni-Cu-PGE discovery. Enegex is targeting “Julimar-style” high-grade Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization across geology analogous with the recent Chalice discovery, as well as Caravel style copper mineralization and ion adsorption REE deposits.
Although platinum is well known for its use as jewellery and as an investment commodity, the major applications of PGE are industrial. That is certainly the case for palladium, which has seen a surge in demand in recent year. Its most significant current use is in catalytic converters, which decrease hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxide emissions in automobile exhaust.
In the electronics industry, PGE components increase storage capacities in computer hard disk drives and are ubiquitous in electronic devices, multilayer ceramic capacitors, and hybridized integrated circuits use PGE to produce fibreglass, and liquid-crystal and flat-panel displays.
Because platinum does not corrode inside the human body and allergic reactions to platinum are rare, it is used in medical implants such as pacemakers. PGEs are also used in cancer-fighting drugs.