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WA1 Resources strikes again with niobium gift that keeps on giving

Updated: Jun 11

Bulls N’ Bears takes a look at the big drill hits of the past week from ASX-listed companies.

Talk about a market darling!

WA1 Resources sent tongues wagging and the company’s share price flying after its coffee-spitting niobium discovery at its Luni deposit in WA’s north-east.

The find pumped its stock up from just 12c in October 2022 to a high of $23.20 on May 20 this year – that’s a giddying hike of more than 19,233 per cent!!! And Luni appears to be the gift that keeps on giving for the Nedlands-based minerals explorer that has a market cap of a staggering $1.02 billion and only 61.34 million shares on issue.

WA1 heads up the list of companies that delivered with the drill bit last week and this week’s column also features ACDC Metals, Iltani Resources, KGL Resources and Talisman Mining.

Now, let’s dive in.

West Arunta project – north-east Western Australia

Hit: 40.1m at 3.2 per cent niobium pentoxide from 126m to end-of-hole.

The Luni prospect within WA1’s West Arunta play continues to shine, this time with a drill hit of 40.1m at a grade of 3.2 per cent niobium from 126.6m to end-of-hole and a supporting intercept in the same hole of 35m at 2.2 per cent niobium from 66m.

The top intercept calculates to a metre-times-per cent grade comparative index of 132.33, pipping two other front-running hits that show better than 130m.per cent indices at the post.

Luni is the type of intrusive carbonatite body that can host exotic and critical minerals. Niobium minerals are not part of the classical rare earths metals, but form part of a solid solution series with tantalum minerals.

Both often also occur in pegmatites and in association with lithium and rare earths and form part of the LCT (lithium-caesium-tantalum) signature sought as indicators of pegmatite fertility.

Luni was discovered in November 2022 in WA1’s first drilling campaign at the site. As a discrete, high-amplitude gravity anomaly, with a limited but coincident magnetic response on the junction of two interpreted key regional structural linears, it screamed out to be drilled.

Early scout drilling returned anomalous niobium, rare earths and phosphorous mineralisation in three holes up to 1.3km apart.

The anomaly extends about 3km east-west and 1km north-south. Since discovery, WA1 has conducted pattern-based, step-out drilling to outline Luni’s mineralisation in a bid to support a maiden mineral resource estimate in the first half of the year.

The development of the drilling program is somewhat similar to that undertaken by Venture Minerals at its stunning Jupiter carbonatite discovery, 80km south-west of Mount Magnet, where infill drilling of its rare earths anomaly is ongoing.

WA1 says it has since focussed on outlining weathered-zone mineralisation at Luni to attain a maiden resource estimate and plans to explore the deposit’s deeper primary potential later on.

Lachlan Project – Central NSW (25km north of Condobolin)

Hit: 4m at 12.6g/t gold and 11.4g/t silver from 90m.

Talisman’s 100 per cent-owned Lachlan project is prospective for large-scale porphyry copper-gold and volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS)-style copper-lead-zinc-silver deposits.

In December last year, the company reported high-grade base and precious metal results from an initial 1710m, six-hole reverse-circulation (RC) drilling program at the site’s Durnings prospect. It was designed to follow up anomalous base-metal geochemistry and test two big, coherent, conductive gradient array induced-polarisation (GAIP) geophysical anomalies.

The first RC hole turned out to be the discovery hole, intersecting two significant zones of disseminated gold-silver-copper-lead-zinc sulphide-rich altered volcanic rocks. The lower 40m mineralised intercept corresponds to a strong GAIP chargeability zone that extends through a strike of about 1.3km and averages 2.5 per cent sulphur.

The six holes were put in at a nominal 200m spacing. Five of them intersected significant sulphide mineralisation in the target zone.

Follow-up diamond drilling included a companion hole next to the discovery hole. It confirmed the find by intersecting two zones of strong copper-lead-zinc mineralisation.

The upper zone comprises 25.2m containing massive, semi-massive, matrix and laminated lead-zinc-silver and a lesser copper-gold zone. The lower zone comprises 28.3m of dominant copper-gold containing massive, matrix and blebby copper-lead-zinc-gold-silver mineralisation.

Talisman’s most recent announcement and this week’s headline hit refer to new intercepts in a more recent diamond drillhole put in 400m north-east of the discovery hole and its later companion.

The headline hit is the shorter of two intercepts in the new hole, with the longer intercept stretching 13m at 1.35g/t gold, 18.1g/t silver, 0.3 per cent copper, 2.7 per cent lead and 0.3 per cent zinc from 65m. It includes 7m at 2.79g/t gold, 31.4g/t silver, 0.5 per cent copper, 4.9 per cent lead and 0.5 per cent zinc from 65m with 1m at 12.2g/t gold, 47.4g/t silver, 2.3 per cent copper, 1.6 per cent lead and 1 per cent zinc.

Most significantly, the latest results highlight a second zone of gold and copper mineralisation, returning high-grade assays 400m north-east of the previously-reported copper, gold and base metal intercepts in the original discovery hole and its later companion hole. It reinforces Talisman’s discovery of a major greenfields base and precious metals discovery at Durnings.

Talisman Mining has nailed solid gold and silver hits from its Lachlan project in Central NSW.

Watchem North project – Victoria (about 170km west of Echuca).

Hit: 6m at 37.9 per cent total heavy minerals (THM) from 6m.

This company must have been head-banging with delight when it assessed results from a 132-hole, 5500m drilling program through February and March that revealed a new 9km-long, 100m to 300m-wide, shallow, high-grade “Venice Beach” strandline discovery at its Watchem North project.

Aside from the headline 6m hit, other high-grade results from Venice Beach include 4.5m at 29.2 per cent THM, 3m at 20.3 per cent and 4.5m at 19.3 per cent THM, with depths to the top of the deposit ranging from 3m in the south to about 10m in the north.

The program also identified a second possible strandline, interpreted initially from Government magnetic data as being about 35km long, which was intersected by at least three holes in the drilling program, assaying 9.4, 6.7 and 10.9 per cent THM over 1.5m intercepts. Further drilling last month tested the strike extent of this feature, with sample results awaited.

A potential third strandline was identified as a possible southerly extension of Iluka Resources’ Barbary resource, just east of ACDC’s ground, as inferred from a hole that intercepted 1.5m going 10.13 per cent THM from 21m. The grade is similar to the 19.3 million-tonne Barbary deposit.

ACDC undertook follow-up drilling last month to determine the extent of the Watchem North strandlines and to better define the extent of mineralisation discovered at its Douglas project. The Venice Beach strandline discovery arose from roadside drilling through to follow-up exploration.

Management says further drilling may be undertaken to better define and extend the discovery after undertaking mineralogical analysis. Field observations indicate an ilmenite-domain style of mineral assemblage, but the company says it will leave it to formal mineralogical analysis to determine the full mineral suite.

The Watchem group and Douglas projects lie about 66km west of and 200km south-west, respectively, from ACDC’s current flagship 628 million-tonne Goschen Central resource.

Orient project – North Queensland

Hit: 2m at 145.3 g/t silver equivalent from 163m downhole

Iltani Resources put in a single RC drillhole to test its high-priority A2 geophysical anomaly, 650m south-east of the Orient West deposit within its Orient silver-indium project.

It not only resulted in the 2m headline hit, but also intercepted 2m at 143.1g/t silver equivalent from 219m in the same hole and a further 1m going 64.2g/t from 186m, while transecting multiple silver-lead-zinc-indium veins. The hole is the first of 11 in Iltani’s latest 2446m RC drilling program at Orient West, which is now complete.

Results are pending for the later holes.

Iltani says the successful result from the A2 blind target, a geophysical anomaly with no surface evidence of previous workings, validates its use of magnetics and induced-polarisation (IP) geophysics as appropriate tools to identify hidden vein systems in the Orient environment and also expands the potential of the project.

Interestingly, the A2 anomaly on IP line 300E appears to reflect a separate isolated conductor that may not be related to the main trend of the dominant Orient West structures. However, there is a chance that the drillhole intercepts might be connected to Orient West vein systems dipping towards A2.

Alternatively, the A2 intercepts could possibly lie on the opposite limb of a fold or the opposite side of the multi-porphyry intrusive complex, which could mean it might be more closely related to Orient East trends than those at Orient West. More information is required to sort that story out.

Indium is a critical raw material and Iltani’s Orient project is now positioning itself as one of Australia’s leading silver-indium supply opportunities.

Jervois project – Northern Territory

Hit: 7.44m at 7.49 per cent copper, 36.19g/t silver and 0.89g/gold from 708.75m

KGL has bagged some decent hits in the latest results from 11 diamond drillholes it recently plugged into its Rockface prospect. The company says its leading 7.44m intercept from the campaign lies about 91.6m below a shorter slice of almost equal grade – a 2m hit at 7.37 per cent copper, 41.12g/t silver and 0.38g/t gold from 617.16m.

The purpose of the drilling was to increase management’s geological confidence in the resource categories prior to a planned resource update for Rockface.

The Jervois copper project​ lies 380km by road north-east of Alice Springs via the Stuart and Plenty Highways. KGL acquired it in 2011 and has since defined a JORC-compliant mineral resource estimate of 23.8 million tonnes at 2.02 per cent copper, 25.3g/t silver and 0.25g/t gold.

The known resources at Jervois are spread across multiple prospects along a 12km strike of outcrop shaped like a “J-curve” due to structural distortion. Several prospects have the potential to become both open pit and underground mines.

The company has concentrated recent exploration on its Rockface and Reward prospects where new mineralised zones of increasingly high-grade are still being discovered using modern downhole electromagnetic (DHEM) surveying and targeted drilling.

Geophysics at the two prospects identified new drill targets from which drilling has produced high-grade intersections and extensive mineralised zones. Surveys of later holes identified new target areas (conductors), with drilling resulting in further high-grade mineralisation.

The base metal mineralisation at Jervois is stratabound and contained within steeply-dipping lenticular bodies or lodes in metamorphic rocks. The mineralised sequence has a strike length of some 12km and a stratigraphic thickness up to about 600m.

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