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Okapi joins lucrative halloysite hunt

Okapi Resources has picked up more than 2,000 square kilometres of prospective kaolin ground and joined Australia’s lucrative halloysite hunt. White Knight in South Australia and Holly in Western Australia are two key projects secured by the company with its acquisition of private resource group Bulk Mineral Holdings.

Both projects host recognised kaolin mineralisation and are therefore considered likely to host high-value halloysite clays.

White Knight sits adjacent to halloysite developer Andromeda Metals’ Great White project on SA’s Eyre Peninsula. Holly is south-west of Latin Resources’ high-profile Noombenberry discovery in southern WA.

The acquisition of Bulk Minerals represents a further diversification of Okapi’s resource sector interests, which also include the Enmore gold project near Armidale in New South Wales and the Mt Day gold project at Lake Johnson in Western Australia.

This acquisition puts Okapi in a highly prospective ground in the heart of major known kaolin halloysite deposits neighbouring the likes of Andromeda Metals. Additionally, historical drill results show the potential of the Holly kaolin project in which we will commence exploration work immediately to confirm the quality of the project.

With the fast-moving technological advances in kaolin halloysite, potential application extends beyond traditional uses to now include batteries and super capacitors, hydrogen storage and construction.

The company’s initial priority looks to be the Holly kaolin project in WA, about 20km east of Kojunup in the south-west of the resource-rich state. Holly comprises two granted exploration licences covering 184 square kilometres of ground, with initial fieldwork confirming underlying granitic stratigraphy and an abundance of weathered and outcropping kaolinitic clays.

Historical, wide-spaced drilling at Holly also confirms the presence of a blanket of kaolinitic clay which extends to more than 11 metres below surface. Laboratory work by CRA Exploration in the 1990s returned “brightness” levels of more than 85 per cent, hinting at the high-grade nature of the underlying clays.

However, the potential jewel in the crown of Okapi’s acquisition is its White Knight project in SA. The project comprises four tenement applications that cover 1,943 square kilometres of prospective ground, providing a strategic holding in the emergent kaolin rich terrane.

White Knight is split into two geographically separate areas, the Camel Lake tenement in central SA, which is prospective for both kaolin and heavy mineral sands and the Eyre Peninsula tenure to the south. The Eyre Peninsula ground sits to the north of the famed Coffin Bay, with the company sharing the region with a host of other kaolinite hopefuls including Oar Resources and PepinNini Minerals.

Interestingly, both tenement packages sit adjacent to Andromeda’s ground holdings in the region. Andromeda shot to fame in early 2019 following the discovery of its Great White kaolin deposit near Poochera in SA, which lies to the east of Okapi’s new tenure on the Eyre Peninsula.

The Great White discovery and subsequent development work has catapulted Andromeda’s share price from 0.06c at the end of April 2019 to 21c today, a meteoric rise in anyone’s language.

An emerging deficit in kaolin products has resulted in significant price rises for both kaolin and halloysite in recent years, with commercial-grade kaolin currently selling at more than US$600 per tonne. High-grade halloysite has risen above US$4,000 a tonne in recent months, up from US$3,000 a tonne in 2019, which has no doubt helped drive Okapi’s entry into this specialty space.

Traditionally kaolin and halloysite, which are found together, have many uses. Most commonly the minerals are a key component in the manufacture of bone and fine china due to their pure white colour and translucency. However, the unusual properties of halloysite, namely its tubular molecular shape, coupled with low iron and titanium content makes it suitable for use in a growing range of technologies including batteries and capacitors.

Halloysite is now being used in swag of emerging medical products including nanotube technologies and cancer therapeutics, adding to its allure.

The acquisition cost of the SA and WA tenure will be met by the issue of 7.1 million shares in Okapi, valued at about $1.5 million and will also see key changes to the company’s board. Managing Director Andrew Shearer and director Rhoderick Grivas depart the board whilst directors David Nour and Leonard math will be elevated to executive roles, signalling a changing of the guard for the ASX-listed explorer.

Okapi joins a select group of kaolin explorers that have enjoyed significant success in the market on the back of evolving discoveries. It will get to work in WA soon and eagerly awaits the grant of its ground in SA.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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