Podium Minerals Limited (ASX: POD) has intersected platinum, palladium and gold from its current resource drilling programme in the western sector of its 100% owned Parks Reef PGM Project in Western Australia.
A total of 17 drill holes for approximately 1,870m of reverse circulation (RC) drilling have been successfully completed in Podium’s latest drilling programme. Previous drilling by Podium has defined Inferred Mineral Resources in three separate resource blocks in the west, central and eastern sectors of Parks Reef with contained metals of 1,140,000 ounces of combined platinum, palladium and goldplus base metal credits with 37,300 tonnes copper. The Mineral Resources defined to date extend over a total of 6.9km of the identified 15km mineralised strike length in Parks Reef and within 100m of surface.
The current drilling is focused on a section of strike between the west and central resource blocks and has been designed to intercept the mineralisation between surface and down to a depth of nominally 100m from surface.
The programme is part of Podium’s staged approach to systematically grow the resource base with an objective to increase the extent of the total resources to a combined length of 8.5km, including a continuous resource block spanning approximately 6.1km over the western half of Parks Reef.
Previous work by Podium has demonstrated a gold and base metal enriched mineralised horizon which lies in the hanging wall above the main PGM Horizon of Parks Reef. This Base Metal Horizon is typically characterised by elevated copper grades which reflects the presence of disseminated chalcopyrite in the fresh rock and occurs with coincident gold.
Geological logging and the distribution of gold in the assay results indicate the continuation of the Base Metal Horizon in the current drilling programme. As shown in previous drilling by Podium, this Base Metal Horizon typically overlaps with the upper layer of the main PGM Horizon creating a high value zone of coincident PGM, gold and base metals in the Upper PGM Horizon.
The outline assay process employed by Podium provides detection of platinum, palladium and gold (3E PGM) however Podium has previously also spot assayed drill holes from Parks Reef to test for rhodium.
For the drill holes tested the rhodium grades appear to be relatively proportional to the 3E PGM grades with rhodium grades averaging 3% to 4% of the 3E PGM grades over the full PGM Horizon and 5% to 7% of the 3E PGM grades in the footwall zone.
Rhodium is one of the platinum group metals (PGM) and is the preferred material to initiate the reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) to harmless nitrogen in advanced 3-way catalytic converters for petrol and hybrid electric vehicles
Rhodium prices have continuously trended upwards since 2016 with rising demand and declining mine supply during this period. Mine production for rhodium is dominated by South Africa (82% of global mine supply in 2019)where it is mined as a by-product from the platinum and palladium mines which have an analogous style of mineralisation to Parks Reef.
Demand for rhodium increased by 9% during 2019 as more stringent vehicle emission regulations are being adopted in most major auto markets. With no supply response the rhodium price has experienced a sustained growth trend with the current price near its pre-Covid19 prices at US$12,400 per ounce.
Similar to the South African operations, while rhodium may only make up a small percentage of the metal composition it has potential to be a significant revenue driver.
While Podium is drilling for inferred classified resources it intends to continue spot assay of drill holes but plans to routinely assay for rhodium once the Company moves to in-fill drilling for indicated resources. It is expected that this will allow rhodium to be included within the Parks Reef Mineral Resources.
Now that the PGM mineralised intervals have been identified, relevant drill samples will be re-assayed for base metals plus spot assays for rhodium with results to be released once available.
Podium then plans to undertake resource modelling with a resource upgrade for Parks Reef targeted for October 2020.
Podium is also planning its ongoing work programmes through the remainder of 2020. Continued systematic resource drilling along the full 15km strike length is planned with an objective to delineate a materially significant near surface PGM resource base.
In parallel with the resource development Podium is currently undertaking metallurgical testwork which is planned to feed into the commencement of engineering design to define a development strategy for Parks Reef.