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Okapi pivots to gold-nickel in Lake Johnston greenstone belt

Okapi Resources has nailed down a strategic position in the fertile Lake Johnston greenstone belt west of Norseman in southern WA. The company has entered into a farm-in agreement with dynamic market player, Lithium Australia, to explore for gold and base metals across that company’s strategic tenement holdings in the same greenstone belt as the old Maggie Hayes and Emily Ann nickel mines.

There are also multiple historic surface gold occurrences across the belt, including on Okapi’s new ground, that have not been followed up over the years.

The Lake Johnston greenstone belt is nestled exquisitely dead centre between a greenstone belt to the south that houses Galaxy Resources’ Mt Caitlin lithium mine, the Southern Cross greenstone belt due west that has multiple economic mineral occurrences and the Norseman belt to the east that is arguably one of the premier multi-commodity mineral terranes in Australia.

Lake Johnston is the only greenstone belt between those three, highly fertile greenstone belts and it has not historically received the attention it arguably deserves given the massive discoveries that have held the attention of explorers in the other three greenstone belts that surround it.

The farm-in to Lake Johnston comes hot on the heels of a board shake-up at Okapi that saw veteran gold developer Rhod Grivas take the Chair. To round out the new management team, experienced Geologist, analyst, broker and company director, Andrew Shearer, has slipped into the Executive Director role at Okapi.

He has been directing the traffic in the company’s hunt for a new project.

Curiously, whilst Lake Johnston has previously delivered the now shuttered Maggie Hayes and Emily Ann nickel mines, the greenstone belt has yet to produce a gold deposit – a highly unusual circumstance for the Yilgarn and a fact obviously not lost on the management at Okapi.

The acquisition of this project marks a significant step for Okapi, fast tracking the Company into an exploration program on an exciting 10km long walk-up gold target in a region that has significant gold and nickel potential with very limited modern gold exploration .

The farm-in with Lithium Australia requires Okapi to make an initial payment of $20,000 to the company and meet a minimum expenditure of $150,000. Okapi then has 5 years to spend a total of $1.2 million to earn a 75 per cent interest in the projects, with Lithium Australia picking up a free-carry through to the completion of a Definitive Feasibility Study –Lithium Australia retains the lithium rights over the tenement package.

Okapi joins a well-known list of ASX explorers and developers with their eye on a new discovery at Lake Johnston, with other notable names holding ground over the terrane including Poseidon Nickel, Element 25 and Lefroy Exploration.

Okapi’s new Lake Johnston tenement package is comprised of seven tenements covering 450 square kilometres and 65km of strike. The tenure surrounds the old Maggie Hayes and Emily Ann nickel mines and takes in a peppering of gold and nickel targets including the recently identified Mt Day gold anomaly, which is also partially covered by Okapi’s new tenement application.

The discovery at Mt Day comes on the back of Okapi’s clever use of forensic exploration and data mining, with the company successfully compiling a swag of historical data over the region that highlights a number of as yet untested gold anomalies that are expressed at surface.

Whilst one prior explorer had undertaken soil sampling at Mt Day and another had taken rock chips and followed up with some limited drilling – together they point to a 10 kilometre long gold-in-soil anomaly boasting rock chips of up to 10.68 g/t gold and historic drill intercepts that include 2m at an impressive 11.04 g/t gold in wide spaced drilling, from just 26m below surface – representing an enticing target for Okapi to sink its teeth into.

With work at the Lake Johnston project already off to a flying start, the farm-in is set to be the first of Okapi’s acquisitions as the management team reorients the company into predominantly gold exploration across WA.

Okapi isn’t the first rodeo for Grivas or Shearer. Grivas played a key role in the discovery and development of the multimillion-ounce Mungari gold deposits, including the rich Frogs Leg mine west of Kalgoorlie.

This is not the first time Grivas and Shearer have teamed up either. The duo has a track record of success, having overseen the revival of Adelaide-based Andromeda Metals, taking that fledgling explorer from a market capitalisation of around $6 million at the beginning of 2019 to more than $80 million today.

Lithium Australia was an early mover in the Lake Johnston greenstone belt, originally identifying its potential to house a world class lithium deposit whilst the market was still just learning about lithium.

The belt is also screaming to be better explored for gold and nickel, but Lithium Australia ended up successfully pivoting towards lithium technology and as a result of that pivot its highly prospective ground at Lake Johnston has never been fully explored.

Okapi now has that opportunity before it with the wily Adrian Griffin’s Lithium Australia still looking to squeeze some upside out of the project with its free carried 25%.

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

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