Nickel is the main focus for Ardea Resources’ (ASX:ARL) at its Goongarrie project in Western Australia, but the junior explorer has uncovered a bunch of other commodities from gold to rare earths.

Recent drilling has uncovered over 15km of strong gold anomalies at the project.

But on top of that and besides the cobalt Ardea already knew was there, the company’s inventory now includes magnesite, scandium, vanadium, zinc and rare earths such as cerium, lanthanum and neodymium.

Rare earths are a group of 17 metals that have unique catalytic, metallurgical, nuclear, electrical, magnetic and luminescent properties. Rare earths like neodymium are used to make high-strength permanent magnets, an important part of hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) traction motors.

Ardea was undertaking sterilisation drilling to work out the best location for its waste ore when it starts mining – because obviously you don’t want to put it on top of a potential big mine.

What it discovered in the process was a “globally and geologically unique” stacking of nickel, cobalt and scandium laterite mineralisation on top of gold.

The reason Ardea has such extensive gold mineralisation is because the Bardoc Tectonic Zone, which is an extension of the Boulder-Lefroy fault, intersects the Walter Williams formation.

And the Boulder-Lefroy fault, according to executive director Ian Buchhorn, is one of the “best gold endowed structures on the face of the earth”.

Major Western Australian gold mines the likes of Northern Star Resources’ (ASX:NST) New Celebration mine, the Kalgoorlie “Super Pit”, and the now famous Beta Hunt mine where $C15m ($16m) worth of gold was dug up by Toronto-listed mine owner RNC Minerals (TSX:RNX) last year, all sit on the Boulder-Lefroy fault.

Junior explorer Lefroy Exploration (ASX:LEX) also has ground near the Boulder-Lefroy fault and is backed by heavyweight Gold Fields, which operates the nearby St Ives gold camp.

Another junior explorer, Bardoc Gold (ASX:BDC), has ground over the Bardoc Tectonic Zone – an extension of the Boulder-Lefroy fault.

Check out all the big gold mines on the Boulder-Lefroy fault here:

Lefroy Exploration, Boulder-Lefroy fault
Source: Lefroy Exploration.

“So we’ve gone out to basically work out where we’re going to put our mullock dumps and we’ve come back with a Pandora’s box of other commodities which have all got potential value, and a lot of these targets are all complementary to the electric vehicle sector,” Buchhorn told Stockhead.

While there are nickel laterite mines that also host gold in other countries like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, the fact that the gold sits beneath the nickel laterite is rare.

“Gold and nickel will occur on the same island in say PNG, but I’m not aware of any nickel laterite that actually has gold mineralisation sitting in the bedrock to the nickel laterite,” Buchhorn explained.

“Certainly, all the nickel laterites that I have worked on in Australia, none of them have gold in them like Goongarrie does.”


At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While Lefroy Exploration is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.