While Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN) has not made much fanfare around it, any move made by the discoverer of the province-defining Julimar PGE-nickel-copper-cobalt-gold discovery tends to draw attention, particularly when it occurs in the West Yilgarn.

So you can be sure that junior explorers – especially those operating near where Chalice has its hunting ranges – are furiously taking notes after the mid-cap developer executed an earn-in agreement with Northam Resources that will significantly increase its exploration footprint in the West Yilgarn.

Under the agreement, the company can earn up to 70% in Northam’s exploration tenure, which covers about 1,600km2 about 35km east of the key Gonneville deposit within Julimar. This ground is also contiguous with its existing West Yilgarn tenure.

Whilst the area is almost entirely unexplored, it is considered to be highly prospective for magmatic nickel-copper-PGE sulphide deposits.

More importantly for hungry junior explorers, Chalice has identified geological similarities to the terrane which hosts the Gonneville deposit and will focus exploration – including drilling in late 2023 or early 2024 – on three untested coincident geochemical-EM anomalies.

That Chalice is making such a move speaks volumes about its belief in the prospectivity of the West Yilgarn, so which explorers are probably looking a little more closely at their portfolios right now?

The neighbours in the neck of the woods

Practically next door to Chalice is the aptly named Western Yilgarn (ASX:WYX), which is awaiting the grant of exploration licence application ELA 70/5111 (the Julimar West project).

A desktop review has indicated that the Gonneville intrusion could continue at depth into Julimar West while possible repetitions of layered intrusions similar to Gonneville have also been identified within the project.

On top of that, the review also identified mineralised pegmatites with Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) grab samples returned significant tin, niobium and tantalum results along with anomalous lithium.

While Western Yilgarn already has plans for a staged exploration program, Chalice’s expansion of its exploration footprint is likely to provide further impetus once the licence is granted.

NickelX (ASX:NKL) owns the Dalwallinu project in the West Yilgarn about 208km northeast of Perth (and about 150km northeast of Julimar) where it is searching for Julimar-style mineralisation.

Not surprising given that Dalwallinu is a lookalike of the world-class discovery.

The company recently completed infill auger drilling soil sampling program that helped define multiple geochemical anomalies over a combined 12km strike.

Notably, it noted that the highest priority target assays host some of the highest platinum group element (PGE) assays of 73.7 parts per billion platinum and palladium in the West Yilgarn along with significant and coincident anomalous values for nickel and copper (466 parts per million and 843ppm respectively).

Over to southeast of Julimar, Sultan Resources (ASX:SLZ) holds court over the Kulin Hill project where a recent deep stratigraphic diamond hole clipped the edges of the main magnetic target.

Whilst water levels were too high, the hole did encounter elevated levels of platinum, palladium, copper and sulphur in a sheared lens of mafic-ultramafic rock over 6.8m.

Located below the main ultramafic unit from 289.7m downhole, the anomalous results suggest there were potential sulphides deposited from a proximal ultramafic source.

Just a little further out in the West Yilgarn

But it is not just companies operating close to Chalice’s ground that will be feeling excited, those operating within the broader West Yilgarn might also be a little more motivated especially when like Venture Minerals (ASX:VMS), you have a neat little joint venture with Chalice anyway.

The dynamic duo hold the South West JV about 240km south of Perth in the Balingup Metamorphic Belt along the Yilgarn Craton’s western margin where Chalice has taken a 51% stake in the 256km2 project after investing in exploration at the site.

It can take this stake up to 70% by spending another $2.5 million by July next year.

The South West JV hosts the 20km long Thor magnetic anomaly, which contains multiple EM targets and is considered a lookalike of the 26km long Julimar complex.

Phase 2 auger soil geochemistry carried out earlier this year by Chalice outlined a further two new nickel-copper-PGE targets, one in the untested northern part of the Thor anomaly and one near the Odin prospect to the east, taking the total of targets identified since Chalice took the lead on exploration at the project to four.

Over at the northern end of the West Yilgarn, St George Mining (ASX:SGQ) has just kicked off a maiden drill program at its Ajana project in the historically mineralised yet underexplored Northampton Mineral Field.

The 17-hole program totalling 3,000m is testing two large-scale targets that lie adjacent to major structures and present as co-incident magnetic and gravity anomalies that are interpreted to be mafic intrusions with potential to be associated with significant nickel-copper-PGE mineralisation.

Both targets were identified following a detailed airborne magnetic survey and gravity surveys in early April 2022, which prompted the company to increase its landholding from two exploration licences to seven – covering 1,750km2.


At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While NickelX, Sultan Resources, Venture Minerals and St George Mining are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.