Podium Minerals is an ASX-listed company focused on exploring and developing high value platinum group metals (PGMs) in the Mid West region of Western Australia, where it holds mining leases covering an area of 77 km² over the entire Weld Range Complex (WRC). Prior to listing, Podium had concentrated on consolidating the ownership of the tenements into a single set of mining leases, which included the completion of a Native Title agreement covering the tenements. This incubatory period of Podium’s history was supported by the founding shareholders in the current company who recognised the potential of the assets. Their belief in the project was rewarded when Podium listed on the ASX in February 2018. Since the IPO, Podium has been able to quickly deliver on promises and demonstrate real value.
Listing on the ASX
The importance of the IPO on Podium’s company development is not lost on CEO Tom Stynes, particularly when considering the flurry of drilling that was able to take place in the Parks Reef area of the WRC last year.
“An IPO brings the necessary funds into the company to allow you to advance the exploration, and that’s what we’ve been doing; proving and demonstrating the targets and the geological hypothesis behind the complex,” he says.
“Being a listed company also gives an opportunity to attract shareholders, and as it does for all junior listed companies, it gives you a platform to keep moving forwards.”
Within a month of listing, Podium had commenced its maiden drill programme in the Western zone of Parks Reef and this was followed up by a second campaign targeting the central zone and Keel target in September.
By October, Podium had collated the results of the initial drilling campaign into a maiden JORC mineral resource estimate for Parks Reef, which estimated a total of 340,000 ounces of combined platinum, palladium and gold contained in approximately 2.2 km of the identified 15 km strike length of the reef.
Enhancing the historical data
Podium’s mineral resource estimate has built on over 20 km of historical exploration drilling in Parks Reef, which formed part of a wider 60 km drilling database within the mining leases of the WRC.
“Parks Reef started as a hypothesis by a visionary geologist in the 90s, called Jenny Parks, who observed the geological structure and compared it to the layered intrusions of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa.
“The lease holder at the time was a company called Austmin Platinum, and they undertook quite extensive surface drilling, identifying the existence of the PGM reef and the extents of the mineralisation.”
Austmin Platinum however, completed only very limited deeper drilling below the supergene (oxide zone), before its parent company fell into administration and the resulting fractured ownership of the tenements then halted further progress at the reef.
“What Podium has done is taken advantage of the historical work and commenced a structured resource drilling programme to systematically demonstrate the mineralisation potential of the WRC,” Stynes proclaims.
The WRC lies approximately 40 km West of the Great Northern Highway between the established mining centres of Cue and Meekatharra. Gold is the most predominant metal in the region, although base metals and iron ore are also abundant and are mined in the region.
“We are located in an established mining area and there are good road links into Geraldton, which has a multi-commodity port that transports concentrates and iron ore. In terms of location, it’s fairly ideal.”
In addition to its enviable location, Podium also enjoys a unique geological offering in the WRC, as there has been no primary PGM mining in Australia to date.
“A focused PGM play is quite unique for Australia and in fact it’s quite unique across most of the globe when you look at the consolidation of PGM production, coming mostly out of Southern Africa and Russia.”
Another resource update
After completing a drilling campaign targeting the central zone of Parks Reef at the end of last year, Podium marched into 2019 with a firm belief that it could deliver a significant resource upgrade.
The company’s confidence was fully justified at the beginning of March, when it released an ASX statement confirming that the Parks Reef resource had been increased by 118% to 740,000 ounces of combined platinum, palladium and gold.
“The really pleasing part of this news is the fact that we are delivering on the targets and expectations that we put in our prospectus and exceeding them,” says a jubilant Stynes.
“We have been able to do that because of the consistency of the mineralisation. The more drilling we are doing, the better understanding we are getting of the reef structure, which is allowing us to continue very efficient resource drilling. We believe we can take that forward along the remaining strike of the reef.”
Podium was also delighted to report the presence of additional base metals credits in the Parks Reef resource, in the shape of copper and nickel mineralisation.
“We have a zone of significant copper enrichment which lies above the PGM reef, but it also overlaps with the top of the PGM reef.
“In terms of what that means in a potential bulk open pit mining operation, when we come to turning this into a project and understanding the economics, we believe it could be quite significant,” claims Stynes.
Furthermore, the reef remains open at depth and along strike to the East, with more than 10km of strike yet to be assessed. This means that only 30% of the total strike length has been incorporated into the current Parks Reef resource.
The tip of the iceberg
“Our preferred plan is to continue drilling along the extents of the reef. The results will define the magnitude of the shallow resources and will then allow us to go back in and target infilling of the most enriched parts of the reef.”
With 70% of the strike still to drill out and the resource estimate currently standing at over 700,000 ounces of combined PGMs and gold, Stynes is supremely confident that the resource will swell beyond the million ounces (Moz) mark.
“From what we have seen so far, the mineralisation is consistent and one of the unique features of this reef is that it’s very thick, unlike the typically narrow reefs found in Southern Africa. The thickness of the reef provides opportunity for a simple and efficient mining operation,” says the CEO.
Podium’s next steps include the necessary extension drilling along strike to define the quantum of resources, as well as further metallurgical testwork to define a processing route. This will then form the basis for progressing to feasibility studies for a mine development.
“Parks Reef is still at an early stage of its development, but as we have demonstrated, the exploration is highly efficient. We believe we can continue to advance quickly.”
Strong PGM fundamentals
Despite Podium’s discovery of the polymetallic nature of Parks Reef in the last 12 months, the company’s main focus is on the PGMs, which is where the majority of the metal value lies, according to Stynes.
“We think the PGM market is a huge opportunity as supply is currently concentrated out of Southern Africa and Russia, where the mining is energy, labour and capital intensive, with the majority as deep underground developments.
“We believe that the Parks Reef project has some pretty unique characteristics, in the fact that it is a thick, shallow style deposit, and we think a supply out of Australia is a unique opportunity and could potentially be viewed as a strategic supply source.
“We see PGMs as a very tight market, with constrained supply and we see plenty of upside opportunities in demand,” concludes Stynes.
During the last 12 months, Podium has identified high value metals with strong market fundamentals and growth prospects through successful exploration in the WRC. The next objective for Podium is to continue drilling along the extents of the reef and define the true resource potential of Parks Reef.