Western Australia’s Julimar region has seen a resurgence in exploration activity following Chalice Mining’s (ASX: CHN) initial Gonneville discovery in early 2020, with the company revealing a “tier-one” maiden resource for the deposit earlier this week.
Gonneville is part of Chalice’s wider Julimar nickel-copper and platinum group element (PGE) project about 70km northeast of Perth.
Chalice acquired Julimar in 2018 and kicked-off its first drilling program in the March quarter of 2020.
This program led to what Chalice describes as Australia’s first major palladium discovery – now known as the Gonneville deposit.
The first hole unearthed a 19m intersection grading 19m at 2.59% nickel, 1.04% copper, 8.37 grams per tonne palladium and 1.11g/t platinum.
Ongoing drilling at Gonneville has resulted in this week’s debut of a “tier-one scale” maiden resource for the deposit.
The resource totals 330 million tonnes at 0.94g/t 3E (palladium, platinum and gold), 0.16% nickel, 0.10% copper, and 0.016% cobalt for 10 million ounces of contained 3E (8.1Moz palladium, 1.7Moz platinum and 300,000oz gold), 530,000t of nickel, 330,000t of copper and 53,000t of cobalt.
Within this resource is a higher-grade pit-constrained component of 74Mt at 1.8g/t 3E, 0.22% nickel, 0.21% copper and 0.21% cobalt for 4.2Moz 3E, 160,000t nickel, 150,000t copper and 15,000t cobalt.
The higher-grade mineralisation starts at surface and has also been hit 60m below the resource pit.
More discovery opportunities
Mineralisation remains open at depth and along strike to the north, which Chalice says demonstrates the potential for growth with ongoing drilling.
Additionally, the resource makes up only 7% of Chalice’s 26km-long Julimar complex landholding.
Chalice managing director and chief executive officer Alex Dorsch said the resource was underpinned by more than 175,000m of diamond and reverse circulation drilling and confirms Gonneville as the largest nickel sulphide discovery worldwide in over 20 years and the biggest PGE find in Australia’s history.
“Despite the scale and significance of the maiden Gonneville resource, we believe that the broader Julimar project is still at a very early stage in its discovery history – and we are very excited about the discovery and growth opportunities within the extensive Julimar complex,” Mr Dorsch said.
“Given its sheer scale, the attractive suite of six payable metals it contains and its premier location close to world-class infrastructure and services in Perth, Chalice clearly has the potential to become a leading global player in the green metals space.”
Julimar exploration resurgence
WA’s Julimar district is located within the West Yilgarn, and Chalice’s discovery has prompted a resurgence of exploration in the region, as well as further afield, with many explorers hoping to replicate the Gonneville success.
Many juniors and majors have pegged up nearby ground or dusted off old exploration data to determine if they have the potential for a similar find on tenements deemed to have Julimar-style mineralisation.
Some of these explorers include:
After listing on the ASX in August, Tambourah Metals (ASX: TMB) is one junior explorer that has been busy staking ground in the Julimar North area.
Tambourah announced this morning it had been granted for two exploration licences, covering 63 square kilometres in the region, which are believed prospective for PGE, nickel and copper.
Its Bindoon South licence is only 12km northwest of Gonneville.
All-up, Tambourah controls 1,127sq km of ground – making it the Julimar district’s second largest landholder.
Already, many anomalies have been identified across the wide landholding with Tambourah expediting land access and heritage activities to get boots on the ground as quickly as possible.
Tambourah’s other exploration licence that was just granted is known as Mogumber West and is 20km west of Caspin Resources (ASX: CPN) Yarawindah project, which has yielded initial exploration success.
Caspin controls 80% of Yarawindah which covers 400sq km of ground 40km north of Gonneville.
It has defined a PGE, nickel and copper anomalous geochemical footprint over 3km of strike.
A larger and second drilling program kicked-off at Yarawindah at the end of last month.
Junior explorer Oar Resources’ (ASX: OAR) flagship asset is Crown, which is located in the Julimar district and only 8km from Gonneville.
After a magnetic survey, the company identified 10 targets at the project which are considered prospective for nickel-copper-PGE mineralisation. All-up 20 targets have been firmed up across Crown.
Field work is ongoing, with assays pending from a recent rock chip sampling program. Drilling will begin once permits have been received.
Another project close to Gonneville is Pursuit Minerals’ (ASX: PUR) Warrior asset where the company is focused on the Phil’s Hill prospect.
Initial drilling at the prospect has returned anomalous silver, copper and gold.
About 30km east of Gonneville is Mandrake Resources’ (ASX: MAN) Jimperding project where drilling was recently completed at the project’s Newleyine prospect.
Assays from the first three holes intercepted anomalous nickel and copper, with a follow-up program scheduled to begin this month.
Venus Metals (ASX: VMC) is on the hunt for Julimar-style mineralisation at various projects within its portfolio that spans WA.
The company is actively looking for PGE, nickel and copper mineralisation at its Youanmi, Mangaroon North, Barrabarra North and Bridgetown East projects.
Venus’ Barrabarra North project is adjacent to Chalice’s own Barrabarra project to the north of the West Yilgarn.
Barrabarra North covers 986sq km in the area.
To the south of Chalice’s Julimar project, in WA’s South West Terrane, is Impact Minerals’ (ASX: IPT) Arkun asset.
At Arkun, Impact Minerals has identified a magnetic anomaly in similar size and shape to Gonneville.
Impact has firmed up 17 targets at the project which it believes are prospective for nickel-copper and PGE.
The company will focus on advancing Arkun over the coming months.
With planning of an exploration program underway, Sultan Resources (ASX: SLZ) hopes to find a Gonneville-look-a-like at its Lake Grace and Kulin Hill tenements.
During the September quarter, land access negotiations were finalised, and applications made for drilling, which is expected to kick off before the end of the year.
In the Narndee-Windimurra Complex, which is 400km north-northeast of Perth, Aldoro Resources’ (ASX: ARN) Nanrdee Igneous Complex project has been likened to “Julimar-style” mineralisation.
The company begun exploration at the project in October last year and prioritised modern exploration techniques to firm up drill targets before moving a rig onsite.
Early drilling has hit massive and near-massive sulphide zones.
Although focused on copper at its namesake project Caravel Minerals (ASX: CVV) believes its Mt William project 100km southeast of Perth in the South West Yilgarn Terrane has potential for a Julimar discovery.
Caravel has identified a 3.5km long magnetic feature at the project.
It also believes its Toolbrunup asset much further south near Albany could host nickel-copper-PGE mineralisation.
Major miner Anglo American (LON: AAL), which is headquartered in the UK, has also joined-in on the Julimar-style hunt.
The company has pegged up a substantial landholding in the region, with its tenements adjacent or close to many of the abovementioned juniors.
Anglo American is currently a leading global producer of PGM in South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.
Greenfield exploration is underway at its Australian tenements.