Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT), Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) and Mercator Metals Pty Ltd have formed a strategic alliance to undertake exploration activities targeting nickel-copper-platinum group elements (Ni-Cu-PGE) mineralisation at the Coates Mafic Intrusive Complex, 55 kilometres east of Perth, WA.
The companies’ tenements which adjoin each other are collectively known as the Coates Project.
A letter of understanding has been signed by the parties which envisages attracting a senior partner for the project by way of a joint-venture development or combined sale.
The Coates Project cover the mafic-ultramafic rock sequences containing the Coates Gabbro and provide the required continuity for efficient exploration.
Recent significant discoveries of Ni-Cu-PGE mineralisation by Chalice Gold Mines Limited (ASX:CHN) at its nearby Julimar project have highlighted the potential of the region.
PGE are among the rarest metals on earth. They include ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium and platinum.
All are high value, with elevated melting points, superior corrosion resistance and catalytic qualities.
The Julimar project, which hosts the mineralisation discovered by Chalice, is 29 kilometres north of the Coates Project and the geology of both is similar.
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said: “Chalice’s recent discovery of significant Ni-Cu-PGE mineralisation at the Julimar project highlights the potential for additional discoveries in similar geological environments, and the Coates Mafic Intrusion, being so close, provides a tremendous opportunity.”
AVL managing director Vincent Algar added: “The discovery of NiCu-PGE at the Julimar project has generated a lot of interest in the Western Yilgarn region, and the strategic alliance announced today is intended to streamline exploration processes through seamless and efficient use of personnel and capital.”
Magnetic signatures indicate that the Coates Mafic Intrusive Complex may be more than 5 kilometres long, with a horizontal width of up to 1 kilometre.
Exploration will commence with compilation and data-sharing of historical information that can assist in targeting potential hosts for Ni-Cu-PGE mineralisation.
The objective is the construction and maintenance of a single, modern dataset for use with digital modelling systems.
Following this initial phase, a laterite-sampling and geological-mapping field exercise will be completed to develop an up-to-date geochemical and geological map.
Jointly, the companies are evaluating the use of ground electromagnetic (EM) geophysical surveys to delineate any sulphide-rich horizons at the Coates project prior to drilling.
While the expected timeframe for the initial base-metal exploration is dependent on permitting, it is anticipated that data compilation and geochemical sampling can be completed in the current quarter.
EM surveys and drilling will take place in the September quarter.