The lockdown in the Eastern states kept Garimpeiro from attending yet another Diggers & Dealers  bash in Kalgoorlie.

It was a good thing as Garimpeiro’s previous tours of duty to Australia’s mining heartland for the annual conference, and the associated after-hours revelry, has had a habit of serving up sticky situations over the years.

Being egged by locals outside the Palace Hotel by some local lads was not fun. Nor was being blamed for keeping a colleague at the bar long enough for him to decide to climb the police radio tower on the way home.

The cops didn’t think it was funny. But $20 in the poor box the next day fixed that one. Then there was the time Garimpeiro happily accepted a lift back to his digs by some company geologists only to be told they had knocked the car off earlier in the evening.

And while he remembers, Garimpeiro says thanks to the local bikies who took pity on him one night and let him ride pillion on a Harley after finding him wandering the streets of Kalgoorlie in search of his hotel.

A wonderful feeling, the wind in the hair, the sense of freedom, and all that. But really, it shouldn’t have happened. Turns out Garimpeiro had left the Palace in the late AM to go home. Only problem with that was he was staying at the Palace.

Safely tucked away in lockdown for D & D 2021, Garimpeiro did his best to follow the conference via the live-stream, and by hitting up his scouts on the ground for what they were hearing.

The big theme at the conference was green metals for the global decarbonisation push and the pressure on metal producers of all types to come clean on what their carbon emission intensities are, and what they were doing to reduce them.

For a while there, Garimpeiro thought he was listening in to a Greenpeace conference. Still, the focus on decarbonisation was timely stuff for an industry that has lots to contribute to the cause.

Having said though, Garimpeiro’s scouts were more interested in working the conference, and Kalgoorlie’s watering holes, to dig up some stocks they liked the cut of, for one reason or another.

Garimpeiro has whittled them down to the three on which there was agreement – Auteco, Great Boulder, and Essential. They didn’t necessarily make presentations present at D&D (Auteco did), but they were definitely being talked about.

Auteco Minerals (ASX:AUT): Trading at 10.5c for a market cap of $180m. Chief operating officer Darren Cooke – formerly the principal geologist at Northern Star – revved up the crowd with his rundown on the company’s high-grade Pickle Crow gold project in Ontario.

“The upside of this project is immense,’’ Cooke said.

Drilling to date has expanded the resource at the historic producer by 710,000oz to 1.71m oz at a grade of 8.1g/t gold in under 10 months. Watch out for another resource upgrade by the end of the year, and drilling at untouched regional projects. Growth through merger and acquisition (Cooke is ex-Northern Star after all) is part of the plan.

Great Boulder Resources (ASX:GBR): Trading at 9.7c for a market cap of $35m. Banjo would be happy to know that Great Boulder’s Mulga Bill prospect near Meekatharra in WA is attracting interest on the strength of recent high-grade gold hits in two lodes (up to 6m at 31.25g/t, or more than an ounce a tonne if you prefer).

Geochemistry suggests the company could be on to an intrusive-related gold system which has implications for the scale of the potential prize. Follow-up drilling a priority.

Essential (ASX:ESS): Trading at 17c for a market cap of $34m (before placement). Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) set the lithium sector alight at D&D with its announcement that the first auction of spodumene, a lithium precursor, had gone off at an amazing $US1,250t.

There was a rush for the doors for lithium stock exposure. Essential is one to benefit, with the company able to pull in $5 million from a placement at 12.5c to grow its Pioneer Dome project, 150km south of Kalgoorlie.

AUT, GBR and ESS share price charts