Australian Vanadium Ltd's (ASX:AVL) compilation of historical data at the Coates joint project with Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) and Mercator Metals has supported exploration for platinum group elements (PGE) as well as other nickel, base metals and gold.
Historical drilling geochemistry has confirmed the partners' exploration strategy at the Coates Mafic Intrusive Complex near Wundowie in Western Australia.
In May 2020, AVL, Lithium Australia and Mercator Metals provided details of a collaboration to advance exploration for nickel, base metals, gold and PGEs at Coates.
The combined tenements of the Coates Project cover 59 square kilometres of a southern extension of similar mafic-ultramafic rocks to the sequence that is host to the recent nickel-copper-PGE discovery at the Julimar Project by Chalice Gold Mines Limited (ASX:CHN).
“Data supports exploration”
AVL managing director Vincent Algar said: “AVL’s geological team has digitally compiled the historical Coates vanadium-titanium drilling with new eyes following the significant nickel-copper-PGE discoveries at Julimar and previous discoveries by Cassini Resources Ltd (ASX:CZI) at Yarawindah.
“The presence of vanadium-bearing layered gabbro intrusions throughout the SW Yilgarn and their association with more ultramafic zones bearing nickel and PGE, align geologically with Coates and the ground held by AVL, LIT and Mercator.
“The data compilation and modelling undertaken to date strongly supports further exploration for base and precious metals at Coates."
Coates Mafic Complex Location and nearby Chalice Gold Mines Julimar Discovery.
Historical drilling data
AVL has digitally captured nearly 18,000 metres of drilling by Garrick Agnew Pty Ltd and Mt Dempster Mining Pty Ltd in the 1970s.
The dataset comprises 4,541 metres of diamond core and 13,420 metres of percussion drilling and includes major element assays (V2O5, TiO2, Fe, SiO2, Al2O3, CaO and LOI) for percussion holes and detailed geological logs of diamond core completed at the Coates project
The geological logs and assay data have been used to create a 3D model of the geology within AVL’s tenure.
Notably, historical drilling has defined a magnetite gabbro with vanadium-titanium mineralisation within a larger layered gabbro intrusion considered prospective for PGE-nickel-copper mineralisation.
Drill core data
In addition, the core from two historical Coates diamond drill holes (CRD019 and CRD013 drilled by Mt Dempster Mining Pty Ltd in 1974) was acquired for analysis.
New micro XRF scans of hole CRD019 indicate presence of disseminated pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite within discrete pyroxenite phase of magnetite gabbro.
AVL will now quarter core, sample and send the entire available sections from CRD019 for laboratory analysis to determine the nature of base metal gold and PGE contents.
Micro XRF scan of core from 50 – 50.15 metres down hole in CRD019
Exploration planning underway
The company has an approved program of works to undertake sampling and drilling within the Vacant Crown Land portion of its holding at Coates and will be commencing exploration in the summer.
AVL, LIT and Mercator are working together to gain statutory approvals for the remaining areas prior to beginning field work, including development of a conservation management plan and land-owner access agreements.
LIT has completed early magnetic inversion modelling of available state aeromagnetic data to determine the extent of proposed soil geochemistry and geological mapping programs.
Rapid turnaround of nickel, copper and chromium analyses of soil samples by a portable XRF will be followed by precious metals (gold, palladium and platinum) analysis by a commercial laboratory.
Resulting nickel geochemical targets will be surveyed using moving loop electromagnetic equipment (MLEM), to detect conductive rock-types, which may include nickel sulphides.
Conductive targets will then be ranked for priority to be drilled once statutory approvals are acquired.
Among the rarest metals on earth, PGEs comprise ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum which are elements with high melting points, corrosion resistance and catalytic qualities.