On the Drill Bit: Lithium, critical minerals drilling taking centre stage in November
If there’s one maxim that is true for resource explorers, it is that they live or die by the drill bit. Stockhead’s ‘On the Drill Bit’ column looks at the ASX explorers that have announced plans to start drilling in November.
Lithium, rare earths and other critical minerals dominate the drill plans that juniors have laid out for the second to last month though gold is also starting to shine.
Here are the companies that are starting (or likely to start) drilling in November divided first by Australian states followed by those operating overseas.
Maximus Resources (ASX:MXR) has received final approvals for a 30-hole reverse circulation drilling program totalling ~3,000m over its Lefroy lithium project in WA’s Eastern Goldfields region.
This scout drilling will focus on outcropping pegmatites that have yielded up to 4.79% Li2O in rock chip samples and an extensive 2x1km lithium soil anomaly.
Geological mapping has already revealed an extensive number of stacked pegmatites that are shallow dipping towards the southeast while soil sampling is underway to define potential lithium-bearing pegmatites.
Exploration at Metal Hawk’s (ASX:MHK) Yarmany project in WA has identified a large lithium target with a main mapped pegmatite covering 1km by 140m at the F-camp prospect.
Rock chip sampling over this pegmatite also returned grades of up to 1,268 parts per million (ppm) Li2O, making it the number one priority for a maiden drilling campaign next month.
The drill program will also test a host of nickel sulphide targets at the project.
Meanwhile, Strickland Metals (ASX:STK) has been enjoying a good run with recent drilling confirming that its Marwari discovery is a large gold target with a strike of over 700m while confirming that gold is indeed present at the newly identified Konik Trend.
Fuelled by the $61m sale of the Millrose deposit to Northern Star (ASX:NST), the company is now preparing to keep the drill bit(s) spinning.
The upcoming arrival of both a RC and diamond rig will more than likely have the company drilling the Marwari, Great Western, Rabbit Well and Chetak prospects in November along with testing new discoveries on the Pegasus trend.
Aircore drilling is also continuing with the rig returning to undertaking systematic fence lines across the Horse Well area, which will likely include several areas with similar geophysical characteristics to existing prospects and discoveries.
During the current quarter and the next, Scorpion Minerals (ASX:SCN) plans to step on the accelerator for lithium exploration at its Youanmi project as it seeks to define a maiden resource.
Its most recent drill program of 17 infill holes had confirmed thick mineralisation along a 3km strike length with grades up to 2.66%.
At the existing exploration target, the company plans to carry out infill drilling at a 40m by 40m spacing, diamond drilling to recover samples for metallurgical test work, and extensional RC drilling downdip and along strike.
Plans are also afoot for RC drilling of parallel pegmatites to determine their extent and composition as well as initial diamond drilling of existing targets at depth.
Mount Ridley Mines (ASX:MRD) plans to resume drilling at the Mia prospect within its namesake project in WA’s Fraser Range, which is prospective for clay-hosted REE mineralisation.
Mia has been the focus of exploration with recent drilling confirming the continuity of thick, high grade and magnet REE rich mineralisation between previously announced drilling.
The 157 new holes pulled up intervals with grades frequently exceeding 1,200ppm TREO and mineralisation ranging between 6m and 41m true thickness at an average of 12m.
Drilling at Mia, totalling about 7,500m, is expected to start before Christmas.
Warriedar Resources (ASX:WA8) expects to start the next phase of drilling at its Fields Find West project in WA’s Murchison gold district in November.
Drilling at the start of the year returned high-grade gold intercepts at depth and along strike from the existing Rothschild resource.
This was followed by the Phase 1 drill program that test four prospects – Warriedar Copper, Falcon, Mopoke and Sandpiper – with assays due out imminently.
Phase 2 will test prospects that the company described as being amongst the most prospective in the area.
In the West Pilbara, GreenTech Metals (ASX:GRE) could start maiden drilling of the Kobe zone as soon as November.
Its projects are close to Azure Minerals’ Andover project with rock chip sampling returning excellent lithium grades of up to 1.82% Li2O along the 7.5km trend.
GreenTech plans to initially drill a stratigraphic drill hole at the southern pegmatite zone to improve its technical understanding of the area.
The hunt for rare earths is hitting new highs with Olympio Metals (ASX:OLY) preparing to carry out aircore drilling at the Walloway area, part of its Eurelia project in South Australia, in November.
Aircore drilling will “more efficiently” test many shallow targets such as W2, W4, W5, W6, W8 and W9 at Walloway, which has the potential for carbonatite-hosted REE mineralisation.
Notable carbonatite REE projects include Hasting Technology Metals’ Yangibana and Lynas’ Mt Weld, while WA1 Resources’ (ASX:WA1) Luni find in WA’s West Arunta region hosts high-grade niobium.
Separately, the company plans to carry out follow-up drilling at its Woodward Range project near Halls Creek, WA, after a recent 20-hole RC program confirmed high-grade gold zones based on rock chip sampling conducted last year at the Glenbuff, Figaro and Rubens prospects.
Meanwhile, iTech Minerals (ASX:ITM) is focused on increasing graphite resources at its Campoona project, which already has a 8.55Mt resource at 9% total graphitic carbon.
While recent drilling has extended Lacroma Central graphite mineralisation by 500m to the north, data collected to date indicates that mineralisation should increase in grade and thickness to the east in the northern traverses as well as south of Lacroma Central.
As such, the company plans to drill at 100m spaced east-west sections to the south once current infill and extensional drilling is completed.
Ongoing drilling at Sunshine Metals (ASX:SHN) Ravenswood Consolidated project in Queensland will likely test undrilled targets such as the northeast corner of the Plateau breccia pipe and shear zones at Cardigan Dam from the end of this month or early November.
Thus far, drilling has already indicated that the Coronation target looks to be a straight mirror of the Highway-Reward copper-gold mine, just 2.7km away while drilling is underway at the Carrington gold-copper lode at the Liontown project.
Results from Coronation and Carrington are expected to be included in a resource update in December 2023, which will also incorporate a further 96 holes previously drilled and not part of the current 4.94mt at 12.0% zinc equivalent resource at the project.
Native Mineral Resources (ASX:NMR) will drill its next diamond hole at its Maneater Hill project in November to test a chargeability high anomaly that is associated with a resistive low and a magnetic low within the eastern anomaly.
Previous exploration at the project has already uncovered a “potentially large mineralised system” with drilling indicating that zinc mineralisation increases with depth at the project.
The company also has a pipeline of activity planned at its McLaughlin Lake lithium project in Canada with initial planning for a maiden drilling in 1Q 2024 now well advanced.
Haranga Resources (ASX:HAR) expects to start drilling at its Saraya uranium project in Senegal before the end of this year.
Mineralisation orientation work is underway at the Diobi, Mandankoli and Sanela anomalies to select the next anomaly outside the Saraya deposit to be drilled.
Uniquely enough, these were identified with the aid of termite mound sampling which allowed the company to overcome the laterite hardcap barrier.
Diobi is five times larger than the Saraya deposit, which hosts a shallow resource of 12.5Mt grading 587 parts per million U3O8 that is suitable for open pit mining.
Also drilling during the current quarter is DY6 Metals (ASX:DY6) where previous work had confirmed that the Machinga Main Northern anomaly within its flagship Machinga project in southern Malawi is enriched with valuable heavy rare earths dysprosium and terbium as well as niobium.
Machinga is just 40km east-southeast of Lindian Resources’ 261Mt at 2.19% TREO Kangankunde project, described as one of biggest and best rare earths projects outside China.
DY6’s maiden drilling had returned a highlight 11m at 1% TREO (including 330ppm dysprosium) from a down-hole depth of 12m and 5m at 1.5% TREO from 26m.
This was followed by the Phase 1 program of 35 holes at the northern end of the Machinga Main anomaly with initial assays returning results such as 7m at 1.42% total rare earth oxide (TREO) with 0.49% Nb2O5 and 16m at 0.54% TREO with 0.21% Nb2O5.
Phase 2 drilling will begin this quarter once all assays from the Phase 1 are received.
Future Battery Minerals (ASX:FBM) will start reverse circulation drilling in November over the Lone Mountain prospect within its Nevada lithium project.
This is part of a broader drill program – with diamond drilling that is already underway, which seeks to define resources and test previous results.
Drilling is also ongoing at the company’s Kangaroo Hills lithium project in WA.
Over in California, QX Resources (ASX:QXR) is preparing to drill two permitted holes in the main part of the surface lithium anomaly at its newly acquired 75%-owned Liberty lithium project.
The lithium brine project has one of the largest project areas in the US and is analogous to Albemarle’s nearby Silver Peak deposit, currently the only significant lithium producer in the country.
Liberty hosts an extensive lithium brine surface anomaly with elevated results up to 215mg/Li extending over 10km. Geophysical analysis suggests a large basin over 1,000m deep, indicating brine aquifer targets at depth.
Should lithium brines be encountered, samples will be submitted for test-work with various DLE providers with vendor IG Lithium providing an experienced team to assist in the field work.
Further up north in Canada, Pioneer Lithium (ASX:PLN) is preparing to carry out maiden drilling at its Root Lake project that sits right next to Green Technology Metals’ (ASX:GT1) 8.1Mt Root Bay deposit.
The company has appointed Cyr Drilling to undertake the drill program of up to 4,000m, which will be conducted under existing permits that provide coverage over pegmatite targets previously identified within the Extended Morrison Corridor.
Field work carried out along this corridor to determine whether it is a continuation of GT1’s Morrison-McCombe pegmatite system and the Central Corridor that is on the same trend as GT1’s Root Bay pegmatite system has already identified 89 new pegmatite outcrops.
At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Maximus Resources, Metal Hawk, Strickland Metals, Scorpion Minerals, Mount Ridley Mines, Warriedar Resources, GreenTech Metals, Olympio Metals, iTech Minerals, Sunshine Metals, Native Mineral Resources, Haranga Resources, DY6 Metals, Future Battery Metals, QX Resources and Pioneer Lithium are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.