Garimpeiro has not let the widely shared pessimism on the near-term outlook for lithium and nickel get to him.

It helps that he is as excited as can be about gold in 2024. It is a widely-shared expectation that the handbrake on gold of high US interest rates will be released from about March.

UBS shares the optimism, saying this week that gold will scale new heights in 2024/25 – albeit because the US economy could fall in to a recession!

The optimism on gold has yet to find its way in to a meaningful re-rating of the ASX-listed gold producers. But the sense is it is coming.

And as for the beaten up gold explorers, the idea that 2024 could be a golden year has them wetting themselves in anticipation.

Always wanting to front-run these things, Garimpeiro went looking during the week in his hunting ground of the juniors for a stock with an interesting story to tell, and maximum leverage to the predicted gold price strength in 2024.

He settled on a little thing called Mako Gold (ASX:MKG) which was trading mid-week at a princely 0.8c for a market cap of $5.3 million. It has a 868,000oz maiden resource estimate under its belt, and a couple of other steak knives in the draw.

But first a confession. Garimpeiro did an Explorers Podcast with Mako’s founder and managing director Peter Ledwidge during the week. It was what got his interest up in the stock and will be available on the Stockhead site in coming days.

Peter tells the Mako story better on the podcast than Garimpeiro is likely to do today. But here goes anyway.

Mako – Peter is a declared shark buff – is a West African gold specialist.

It found and sold a gold deposit in Burkina Faso in the past. Before that, Peter and other Mako operatives were involved with the ASX-listed Orbis Gold, a Burkina Faso explorer which was acquired by a Canadian company in 2015 for $178 million. So Peter knows his way around West Arica.

Mako’s focus now is very much on Côte d’Ivoire, one of the less challenging countries in West Africa as ASX-listed companies operating gold mines in the country, Perseus (ASX:PRU, $2.5 billion) and Tietto (ASX:TIE, $690 million), will attest to every day of the week.

Tietto is currently the subject of a contested takeover bid from a Chinese shareholder but gets another mention here because the team led by (Dr) Caigen Wang that took it from an ASX-listing in 2018 to gold producer status before moving on last year are planning to join forces in Côte d’Ivoire with Mako.

Under a deal which remains subject to due diligence, Mako is looking to acquire Goldridge Resources, a privately owned company associated with the founders of Tietto, including Dr Wang.

It owns the advanced Konan exploration project in the same neck of woods as Mako’s flagship Napié gold project which has that maiden resource of 868,000ozs mentioned earlier, and oodles of exploration upside.

The idea is to create a district scale gold play with multimillion ounce gold potential. That’s all very interesting for Mako with its modest market cap, remembering it already has 868,000oz at Napié which being valued by the market at all of $6oz.

But wait there’s more, as the earlier mention of Mako having a couple of other steak knives in the draw suggested, namely an interesting manganese discovery with some serious scale potential, and the pending grant of an exploration licence covering a known pegmatite swarm mapped by a French geological survey back in the day.

It is safe to say that there is nothing in Mako’s current market cap for those two. While the gold remains the focus, both the manganese (Côte d’Ivoire has four producing mines) and the lithium potential will get some attention from Mako in 2024.
The views, information, or opinions expressed in the interviews in this article are solely those of the interviewees and do not represent the views of Stockhead. Stockhead does not provide, endorse or otherwise assume responsibility for any financial product advice contained in this article.