Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) and fellow explorers Australian Vanadium (ASX: AVL) and private entity Mercator have firmed up nickel and platinum group element targets across their adjacent tenements which are in proximity to Chalice Gold Mines’ (ASX: CHN) Julimar discovery.

The tenements are less than 30km south-east of Julimar within Western Australia’s Coates Mafic Intrusive Complex near Wundowie and have a combined area of 59 square kilometres.

Under an agreement in late May, Australian Vanadium and Mercator are working with Lithium Australia to share resources and data across their adjacent tenements collectively known as the Coates project.

“The discovery of nickel-copper-PGE at the Julimar project is generating a lot of interest in the western Yilgarn as a new province for nickel and PGE,” Australian Vanadium managing director Vincent Algar said.

“Already, the companies’ strategic alliance is bearing fruit as we streamline our exploration activity to target potential new discoveries in this exciting region,” he added.

Exploration plans for Coates

Since working together, the team has compiled much of the available geological and geochemical information available for Coates.

This has included geochemical analysis of 522 vacuum holes drilled in 2013 across Mercator’s tenement.

Although the tenement was drilled for bauxite, Lithium Australia noted that end-of-hole samples near the Coates Mafic Intrusion returned anomalous copper, platinum, palladium and gold.

Concurrently, early modelling of available aeromagnetic data has been undertaken to determine the extent of the proposed soil geochemistry and mapping programs.

To advance exploration, the companies are developing a conservative management plan and drawing up land-owner access agreements.

Once on the ground rapid analysis of soil samples for nickel, copper and chromium using field-portable X-ray fluorescence will be followed by evaluation for precious metals at a commercial laboratory.

Nickel targets will be surveyed using a moving-loop electro-magnetic survey. Once these have been refined, drilling will follow.

“The companies are well aware of the market excitement generated by nickel and PGE targets such as the Coates Mafic Intrusion and are keen to get onto the ground; however, we take our social and environmental responsibilities very seriously, and getting these things right at the start of a project will pave the way for enduring good relations with all stakeholders as the project develops,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin explained.

Julimar discovery

At Julimar, Chalice has reported consistent high-grade nickel, copper and PGE drill intersections.

The first hole at the discovery pulled up 19m at 8.4 grams per tonne palladium, 2.6% nickel, 1% copper and 0.1% cobalt.

Another notable intersection was 75.1m at 6.2g/t palladium, 1.7g/t platinum, 1.7% nickel, 0.7% copper and 0.10% cobalt from 34.9m.

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