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NickelSearch defies name to join lithium success trail

Updated: Mar 12

Nickelsearch is this week’s Bulls N’ Bears profiled ASX runner. Credit: File

The manic global hunt for lithium is so profound that even a company with a name suggesting a glaringly-obvious focus on finding nickel seems to have been unable to resist the seduction of the silvery-white metal.

NickelSearch sent the ASX boards alight last Tuesday when its stock launched to a high of 80 cents, up from the previous week’s close of just 35c for a hike of more than 128 per cent. But it had nothing to do with the nickel mission the company espoused loudly on entering the ASX just shy of two years ago.

The share price fire was fanned by news that NickelSearch’s giant lithium expert neighbour Allkem, which was at the centre of a US$10.5 billion (AU$16.5 billion) merger with Livent back in May, had signed on the dotted line to help it assess the lithium potential at its Carlingup nickel sulphide project near the Western Australian town of Ravensthorpe.

Allkem is the owner and operator of the Mt Cattlin lithium mine that sits only 10km west of the Carlingup project, where NickelSearch has highlighted significant potential for pegmatites.

NickelSearch’s first real suggestion of a mineral pivot at Carlingup came back in April after it conducted multi-element geochemistry review on available soil data at the operation. The company highlighted 22 potential lithium areas, including five high-priority targets for lithium-caesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatites, in addition to four volcanogenic-hosted massive sulphide targets prospective for copper, lead, zinc with associated gold and silver.

Management says a sampling program is now already underway at the operation in ground cleared for exploration to target the 22 areas of interest identified by the review. Analysis of historical geological and geophysical data is expected to generate additional areas of interest.

As part of the collaboration, Allkem will review the lithium-related data for Carlingup and advise on target generation and prioritisation. While the arrangement is not yet at the level of a joint venture (JV) and there is no guarantee that the technical collaboration will lead to a formal agreement in the future, the agreement appears to be beneficial for both parties with NickelSearch able to reap the benefits of Allkem’s lithium experience, while the latter can keep an eye on any potential mineralisation extensions to the east.

If things keep going the way they are, the saying “If I had a nickel for every time…” – relating to something happening frequently – may soon have a different bent. Although, “If I had some lithium oxide…” may not quite have the same ring to it.

However, there is no doubt lithium is more than capable of sending stocks soaring with OzAurum Resources jumping by a whopping 212 per cent to touch 12.5 cents after it received rock-chip results up to a massive 7.36 per cent lithium oxide at its new project in Brazil.

Last week, the company entered into a binding term sheet to pick up the Linopolis Jaime hard rock lithium project in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais – an area that has attracted significant attention recently from the likes of SI6 Metals and Latin Resources.

The latest OzAurum acquisition contains mineral rights to a 240-hectare area with more than 20 LCT-bearing pegmatites that have previously been mined for tantalite, beryl, tourmaline and other minerals for the past 50 years, but with no previous lithium exploration.

The company says it has confirmed the presence of a 7m-wide spodumene zone, with coarse spodumene crystals up to 1m in length mapped at the Sito do Estevinho underground mine workings. It adds that spodumene crystals are rarely seen in lithium deposits and cites the Greenbushes and Mt Marion mines as examples of where they are known to occur.

A fresh campaign is currently being planned and is expected to include geological mapping, soil geochemistry and diamond drilling.

Lithium Universe is one of a number of companies looking for lithium at James Bay in Canada. Credit: File

Wireless technology company Etherstack jumped 86 per cent last week to touch 35.5c after Telstra agreed to trial its new radio technology. The company says its technology bridges digital radio networks used by State and Federal public safety agencies and future “Mission Critical Push-To-Talk” cellular services proposed to be deployed within Australia under the Albanese Government’s Public Safety Mobile Broadband initiative.

The latest deal follows similar government-backed initiatives in the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand, in addition to other markets across the European Union, Middle East and the Americas.

Etherstack is a wireless technology company specialising in developing, manufacturing and licensing mission critical radio technologies for wireless equipment manufacturers and network operators around the globe. Management says the trial will last about nine months and is expected to add about $320,000 in revenue to the company’s current financial year.

This column recently trumpeted the virtues of nearology, the art of being at the right place at the right time in terms of being located near successful exploration and mining neighbours, and how an announcement emanating from an industry hotspot has the potential to lead to a serious boost in share price. Well, what if you decide to name your company after a major mining jurisdiction and then list on the ASX?

That’s what Canadian-focused lithium explorer James Bay Minerals did when it hit the hustings last week following a successful $6 million IPO. Its 20c initial public offering (IPO) rocketed to 61c, putting on 205 per cent.

The company’s portfolio includes 224 square kilometres of 100 per cent-owned tenements in – yes, you guessed it – the world-class James Bay province in Quebec. Its Joule, Aero and Aqua operations are along trend from Patriot Battery Metal’s Corvette lithium discovery that houses a mineral resource of 109.2 million tonnes at 1.42 per cent lithium oxide.

James Bay’s Troilus site sits just 5km from Sayona Mining’s Moblan lithium deposit with a resource of 51.4 million tonnes at 1.31 per cent lithium oxide.

James Bay expects exploration activity to kick off in the coming weeks, including Lidar survey, aerial imagery acquisition, field mapping, geochemical and geophysical surveys and rock-chip and channel sampling.

Another benefit of the company’s naming convention means it is also likely to pop up on any Google search involving Canada’s emerging lithium district that seems to be getting more crowded by the day.

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