Western Yilgarn (ASX:WYX) - emerging nickel and PGE developer




Western Yilgarn Limited (ASX:WYX) General Manager Gavin Rutherford provides an introduction to the company, discussing its highly prospective nickle and platinum group elements tenements in Western Australia.

Paul Sanger: I am Paul Sanger for the Finance News Network, and today I'm talking to resources company Western Yilgarn (ASX:WYX), and they have a market cap of around 8 million. Western Yilgarn is focusing on the Yilgarn Craton region of Western Australia. The company has two lead projects, Ida Holmes Junction, targeting broad zones of nickel, cobalt mineralization, and Julimar West which is highly prospective for bauxite, PGE, nickel, and copper mineralization. We are talking to the company's general manager, Gavin Rutherford. Gavin, welcome to the network.

Gavin Rutherford: Thanks very much, Paul.

Paul Sanger: Gavin, to kick things off, why don't you start by giving us a quick overview of the company and some of its recent history.

Gavin Rutherford: Well, the company is very recent. It was floated back in May 2022. Everything about it's been new. And we've spent the last period of time since then getting things in order, finding out what in the suite of six projects we floated with we were generally going to be able to run with successfully. The lead project was what's now called the Julimar West Project, which was an application at that stage. And from an early stage in the life of the company, it was apparent we needed to really just chase down what sort of companion projects we could run alongside Julimar West. And now we're at a stage where I think we're looking at Julimar West potentially running alongside as a companion project to our main project.

Paul Sanger: Oh, fantastic. And can you speak to the benefits of the recently announced JV with Fleet Street?

Gavin Rutherford: Yes. Speaking of the main project, the Ida Holmes Junction project is about 70 kilometres southwest of Leinster, and we went out very early in the piece and started looking hard on the project there which was at that stage called Bulga. The tie-up to answer your question with Fleet Street has introduced a new aspect to the geology there, which is the Holmes Dyke which the industry doesn't seem to know a lot about. Not surprising, it's an under-explored area. And what's happened is that we've found that the confluence of the Holmes Dyke and the Ida Fault where they meet is at our lease and Fleet Street were perceptive enough with a very talented geologist within their small cohort to identify the benefits of the Holmes Dyke.

So we've actually entered into a JV with Fleet Street that's given us a lot of the tenements along the Holmes Dyke. We have been followed. Our tenements have been successfully attracting other players in the game. So we've had Rio Tinto and TechGen Metals attached themselves to us at the east, and Rio Tinto has turned up in the west as well on the end of the Fleet Street tenements. So I get a feeling we're doing something right.

Paul Sanger: And in regards to mineral exploration, having access to a geologist who knows his worth is incredibly important to any exploration project.

Gavin Rutherford: We're blessed because Beau Nicholls is our technical advisor, consulting geologist. And Beau's from the get-go with Western Yilgarn has very much had a great hand on the tiller and influence on how we approach our exploration. And then for someone of Peter Walker's credentials to turn up in Fleet Street, and it's in a passive role, but as the guy that oversaw the development of these Fleet Street leases coming together, he was more than happy to provide input during the JV discussions but also post that he's a great support.

Paul Sanger: Now, you threw out a big name there. So there's some big names surrounding the Ida Holmes project such as Rio Tinto, as you mentioned. Do the land hunters pre-date Western Yilgarn or have they lodged these applications after your arrival in the area?

Gavin Rutherford: They've come after us. If you look at the available government information about the area, it's just been written off, should I say, or placarded at least as just granite. We turned up with our original 135 odd square kilometres and immediately started an orga-geochemistry program just to get through the transported soils and down to the Big Bang dirt. So stuff that's been there forever. And 3,600 holes later, we've been able to draw a very, very good picture of what's there. And that included uplifting our lease area to 477 square kilometres.

During the course of that, Paul, the announcements we were making certainly started to attract the attention of other players. So I'm happy to say that I regard us as the pioneers in that part of the Ida Fault and other people have come after we've started making a little bit of noise in the market about what we've been finding.

Paul Sanger: And 3,600 holes, that's a lot of holes. What timeframe do you manage to do that across?

Gavin Rutherford: Really quickly. The orga-geochemistry team out there is they're exemplary. They do a great job. I've been out there myself on the rig and one day we did 50 holes. So the residence time of a hole, the life of a hole, if you like, from when it started to when it's finished and very carefully put back to the way it was, it was about 15 minutes, 20 minutes, that's all.

Paul Sanger: Wow. And your Julimar West exploration license was only recently granted in, I think, November '23.

Gavin Rutherford: Yeah.

Paul Sanger: But you were not the only company who put an application in. Who else wanted this land and why do you think that was the case?

Gavin Rutherford: Oh, okay. Yeah, look. Under the application process, other companies can or entities can have an application over the top of you, so to speak. And yeah, we had our application in and we had Chalice Mining who had an application above us just on the odd chance that if we didn't get the award of the tenement, that they would drop to it and pick it up. Also, our Caspian resources were there. So two well-credentialed neighbours who were interested in the 349 square kilometres that we've picked up in that lease.

Paul Sanger: And read into that what you may.

Gavin Rutherford: Yes, indeed.

Paul Sanger: And what news flow can we expect from the company in, say, look, the next three to six months?

Gavin Rutherford: Look, the first thing I'd encourage viewers to do is maybe interrogate what we've released in the last few weeks. So let's say since New Year. And you'll notice that there's been a flurry of releases. Looking forward, what we're going to have is more orga-geochemistry happening on two lease fronts, electromagnetic, airborne electromagnetic on two lease fronts. We've got the orga-geochemistry team back out there now and we'll be doing an announcement to that effect. And that will be on the three leases. So the one I didn't tell you about was Boodanoo. So read the releases and you'll read about Boodanoo. And the news flow is going to be really focused on the activities and then the results.

And what we've done is we've purchased a portable x-ray fluorescence machine and we're going to be doing a lot of our own assays. What we've found is that the considerable expense and time it takes to get assays done is not that good in comparison to what we're specifically looking for in copper and nickel, where we can get an x-ray fluorescence machine on site to give an equivalent result to our satisfaction to be able to direct our exploration in real time. So we save money on a number of fronts. In fact, the x-ray fluorescence machine, which commonly can pay up to 75, $80,000 for, has paid for itself already.

Paul Sanger: I bet it has. That's fascinating. Gavin, look, thanks for your time today and we hope to see you soon for an update. Clearly lots can be happening over the next three months. We'll be watching the story very close.

Gavin Rutherford: Yeah, look forward to it. Look forward to catching up. Thanks, Paul.

Paul Sanger: Thanks for your time.

Gavin Rutherford: See you.



Name Paul Sanger