Australian rockers Cold Chisel made Bow River famous way back in 1982 with their song of the same name. Now Lycaon Resources wants to do the same by unearthing a nickel-copper monster at its Bow River project in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. The project is the flagship operation for a discovery-focused company more than willing to get its hands – and drills – dirty.
Rock legend Ian Moss was listening to the wind (babe) and listening to the rain when musically musing in 1982 about heading back to Bow River – a tributary that runs through Western Australia’s stunning Kimberley region and into Lake Argyle.
But the sound of a spinning diamond drillbit perforating the still air at the Bow River mining site for the first time in nine years, is now music to the ears of Perth-based explorer Lycaon Resources as it embarks on a mission to get its hands on the tail of what it believes could be a nickel-copper monster.
Lycaon – which is named after a Greek mythology king and only listed on the ASX boards in November, 2021 – has started drilling at its Bow River project and says it will target deep mineralisation missed by historic exploration that revealed the presence of nickel and copper.
As part of its bold mission, the company has leveraged modern geophysics to home in on what it hopes will be the sulphide-bearing intrusions at depth that were suggested earlier this year by high-resolution ground gravity data. Its drilling program is scheduled to take about a month and will consist of two holes to a depth of about 800m each, aimed at the gravity anomaly sitting between about 350m and 750m.
The Bow River project is within the Halls Creek Orogen in WA’s East Kimberley, in an area known for its nickel-copper-cobalt sulphide prospects housed within two intrusive complexes – the Bow River and Salt Lick intrusives.
Significantly, both intrusives are similar in style and at comparable depths to Panoramic Resources’ Savannah North deposit, 60km to the south. That deposit boasts a mineral resource of 13.88 million tonnes at 1.52 per cent nickel, 0.69 per cent copper and 0.1 per cent cobalt for 211,200 tonnes of nickel, 95,300 tonnes of copper and 13,900 tonnes of cobalt contained metal.
Lycaon Resources technical director Tom Langley said: “Bow River is an extremely compelling nickel-copper magmatic sulphide prospect which ranks as a standout target in the Kimberley outside of Panoramic’s Savannah mine. Despite nickel copper gossans being first discovered in 1965, no drilling has occurred below 200m vertical depth. In light of the discovery of Savannah North ore deposit in 2014, Bow River remains one of the highest ranked nickel copper prospects in the Kimberley yet to be drilled adequately. The ground gravity survey recently completed has supported our rationale to test the deeper portion of the Bow River intrusion which will investigate the extent of the mineral system underlying the historical nickel and copper mineralisation recorded to date.”
Outside Bow River, the company has built a diverse platform from which to ply its exploring trade.
About 350km south in West Arunta, Lycaon is maturing its Stansmore carbonatite rare earths project with plans to drill. The area is fast becoming a significant rare earths and copper hotspot, located at the junction of two major regional faults where the company believes a large magmatic hydrothermal system has been active.
About 95km to the south of Stansmore, WA1 is sitting on 142 million tonnes at 0.62 per cent niobium pentoxide, 0.18 per cent total rare earth oxides (TREO) and 3.85 per cent phosphorus pentoxide at its P2 discovery and 136 million tonnes at 0.4 per cent niobium pentoxide, 0.17 per cent TREO and 3.9 per cent phosphorus pentoxide at Luni.
Lycaon says the area was exposed to historic exploration targeting diamondiferous kimberlites by BHP in 1982, but never explored for niobium and rare earths.
The company is also exploring its Julimar project in WA’s Wheatbelt region, with two small tenements near Chalice Mining’s large-scale exploration portfolio in the new West Yilgarn Province. The land sits on a newly-recognised belt more than 30km long named the Julimar Complex.
The mafic-ultramafic intrusive belt is prospective for magmatic sulphide mineralisation and has a rare chonolith-like geometry similar to other major mafic-ultramafic systems worldwide.
In the eastern region of the Kimberley, management has secured the Gnewing Bore project, a high-grade silver-gold play located in the developing Halls Creek orogenic belt. Early explorers in the 1960s recognised the potential for base metals mineralisation, but no exploration has been undertaken on the project since the 1990s, when the focus was purely on gold.
Rock-chip samples in the area have come back with some solid hits including 5m at 3.31g/t gold and two other individual samples reading 105g/t and 2.26g/t, respectively. The company says it plans to investigate further areas of sulphide accumulation and quartz veining below the outcropping quartz-sulphide gossan with geophysical surveys prior to drilling.
Near Wiluna, Lycaon holds about 182 square kilometres of gold ground in the Norseman-Wiluna Greenstone Belt, just 45kms east of Kalgoorlie. Historic drilling in the area hit thick, shallow zones of supergene gold mineralisation with drill hits of 40m at 0.6g/t from 18m, 21m at 1g/t from 41m, 4m at 4.1g/t from 62m, 15m at 0.4g/t from 13m, 20m at 0.6g/t from 39m and 2m at 5.9g/t from 95m.
But the company says exploring Bow River, which covers about 10 square kilometres of sulphide-endowed ground, is its immediate focus. The best historic drill intersection at the site showed 3.17m at 1.45 per cent nickel, 0.41 per cent copper and 0.14 per cent cobalt.
Lycaon says historic aero-magnetic data obtained in 2002 showed a strongly-conductive zone coincident with a soil geochemical anomaly and reverse-circulation (RC) drilling of the targets intersected broad, low-grade nickel mineralisation in disseminated massive sulphides. Results included 12m at 0.45 per cent copper and 0.12 per cent nickel from 84m, including a 4m-thick section at 0.77 per cent copper and 0.12 per cent nickel.
Another RC hole showed 8m at 0.26 per cent copper and 0.37 per cent nickel from 116m, while another hit 2m was going 1.43 per cent copper from 73m.
The company says other historic diamond drilling hits include 10m at 1.1 per cent copper and 0.5 per cent nickel, 11.5m at 1.2 per cent copper and 0.5 per cent nickel and 3m at 0.97 per cent copper and 1.3 per cent nickel. Management says drilling to date is limited to only a small area of the Bow River intrusive and the broader intrusive at depth has also received little attention … until now.
Lycaon was the first company to run a modern ground gravity survey at the site earlier this year and the results revealed a big high-density anomaly, about 1.2km west and down dip of the nickel and copper mineralisation intersected in historical drilling. Interestingly, the density contrast outlined by the company in the anomaly is in line with expectations for ultramafic or mafic peridotite host rock and analogous to Savannah North.
The rugged Bow River area is well-known for its hot weather conditions and the hard yakka required to get the job done, so Lycaon is rolling up its sleeves to have a decent crack. And if the company’s ground workers find what they hope to during the first diamond drill mission, the first thing you know, they’ll be back in Bow River again.
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