While the upgraded nickel sulphide resource at NickelSearch’s Carlingup project is certainly a worthy prize, a recent geochemistry review has hinted at potential for more commodities, including lithium.

The recent multi-element geochemistry review conducted on available soils data identified five high priority lithium-caesium-tantalum pegmatite target areas and four high priority Volcanogenic-Hosted Massive Sulphides (VHMS) targets that are prospective for base metals such as copper, lead and zinc as well as associated gold and silver.

Identifying lithium is intriguing given that the Carlingup project in WA’s South Coast region is just 10km away from Allkem’s Mt Cattlin lithium mine.

And just to generate a little more buzz for NickelSearch (ASX:NIS), the review also identified five new nickel sulphide targets located near the existing Sprint, Relay, John Ellis West, Lipple and Wadley targets.

“It is hugely exciting to have confirmation that our tenements are prospective for many minerals that are needed in the energy transition, including lithium,” managing director Nicole Duncan said.

“We know the ground at Carlingup can host high-grade nickel sulphides because our tenements host RAV8, which produced 16.1kt nickel at 3.45%.

“Having areas of prospectivity highlighted independently confirms the value of examining all available data using the latest knowledge and techniques.”


Lithium targets

While the report had identified 22 areas of interest that could be prospective for LCT pegmatites, it focused on five high priority target areas.

Two of these extend over 1km in length while another two stretch out over 800m of strike.

Notably, the targets fall within the colloquially known “Goldilocks Zone”, where LCT pegmatites form at a distance of 3km to 6km away from the parent granite with modelled pressures of between 200 and 300Mpa and temperatures ranging from 150 to 215 degrees Celsius.

This is crucial as it is commonly said that most economic spodumene deposits globally are found within this Goldilocks Zone.


VHMS potential

The identification of VHMS potential at the Carlingup Trend is not new with the first signs emerging in 2014 after Traka Resources drilled a deep hole (RAVD120) targeting nickel sulphides about 2km west of the RAV8 deposit.

Core from the hole was studied as part of a broader pyrite geochemistry study aimed at understanding pathfinder geochemistry associated with VHMS deposits.

In the process of doing so, Ross Large and his team at University of Tasmania Centre for Ore Deposit and Earth Sciences confirmed that the hole had passed through VHMS related alteration of a similar age to other major VHMS deposits in the Yilgarn such as Gossan Hill and Scuddles.

Certain mineral relationships in the pyrites were also found to have similarities to those seen at the major DeGrussa VHMS deposit in the Peak Hill District of WA’s Northern Murchison region.

NickelSearch’s review using the well documented association of lead, zinc, copper, silver, cadmium, thallium and tin to evaluate VHMS potential found a high priority anomaly about 1,300m from RAVD120 and a cluster of three larger prospects clustered around regional structures close to the RAV4 and RAV4 West deposits.


Additional nickel potential at Carlingup

The review also confirmed the targeting work already conducted for nickel sulphides and identified additional targets, both of which are hugely encouraging for the company, which – as its name suggests – is focused on nickel.

NickelSearch noted that of 2,715 samples taken in the Carlingup area, just over 50% have Kambalda Ratio values above one.

The Kambaldo Ratio identifies areas of enriched nickel, copper and depleted chromium and zinc with higher levels indicating potential for fertile nickel sulphide deposits at depth.

This results in the identification of 37 areas of interest for nickel sulphides, five of which are ranked as high priority areas while seven are associated with existing nickel occurrences.

Another four anomalies are believed to be associated with the formation of RAV8.


Future planning

NickelSearch plans to test the lithium prospectivity by assessing the effectiveness of remote sensing in identifying spodumene outcropping on the Carlingup Trend.

It will then carry out a campaign of detailed mapping and rock chip sampling over the areas that have been cleared for exploration, followed by drilling as appropriate.

The company has also applied for funding under WA’s Exploration Incentive Scheme in order to drill a deep hole targeting the VHMS target related to RAVD120.

In addition, assays from recent drilling at the Sexton target, coupled with associated strong downhole electromagnetic (DHEM) conductors, give the company confidence in its approach of systematic testing of the 30+ greenfields targets defined across Carlingup.

Sexton assays results and the very high conductivity of the modelled DHEM plates indicates extensions of mineralisation at depth and down-plunge.

As such, it will be the key focus for follow-up diamond drilling as the company considers that the prospect has the potential to progress into a significant nickel discovery.

The company has also started drilling at both the Serendipity and B1 greenfields targets, the former of which has an impressive nickel-chrome anomaly extending over 1km of strike.

Additionally, ultrafine soil sampling will be carried out across the remainder of its tenement package with independent expert reviews carried out to ensure the prospectivity of the project is fully understood.



This article was developed in collaboration with NickelSearch, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.