No messing around from Garimpeiro this week. The big thematic pieces have been parked up so he can debunk the idea that investors have left the junior end of the mining market and won’t be coming back for years.

It is a portfolio mindset that ignores the reality that the market has and always will respond to exciting exploration results no matter where a particular commodity is in the price cycle.

At any moment, 95% of the exploration juniors don’t deserve investor attention. But those with active drilling programs that come up with the goods do. And funding for their confirming work always follows.

Here are two commodity agnostic examples of juniors that are doing nicely in response to excitement over their exploration work, proving that talk about the death of the junior explorer is pure humbug.

Venture Minerals (VMX): This one has been walking tall since the start of the year, rising from 0.7c a share to 1.8c mid-week for a market cap of $37.5 million.

Led by industry veteran Andrew Radonjic, Venture has long been known for a collection of interests ranging from tin and iron ore in Tasmania to Julimar/Golden Grove-type prospects in WA.

But it is its hunt for clay-hosted rare earths in its home state of WA that has fired up interest in the stock.

Drilling at its Jupiter prospect in the Mid-West region has produced super-impressive results from a resource definition program, including a “headline’’ hit of 48m grading 3,025ppm rare earths.

Venture reckons the hit is the highest grade clay-hosted rare earths exploration result in Australia.

High-grade hits in clay-hosted settings are good for sure. And 48m is nice and thick too.

But what has got Garimpeiro’s explorer-watching mates excited is the potential scale of the thing.

The company has given us a clue of that potential by calling it Jupiter in the first place. Ben-Hur would have had the same effect.

Jupiter sits in a 40sq km alkaline intrusion of which Venture has tested a small part.

“Jupiter is shaping up to be an incredibly impressive target,’’ Radonjic said recently.

He also noted that Jupiter is spot on in terms of WA locations. Geraldton is to the west, Lynas’ Mt Weld concentrator is to the east, and the Iluka/Australian taxpayer refinery being built at Eneabba is to the southwest.

It is one to watch as more results roll in and Venture confirms Jupiter has the right sort of metallurgy in the lead-up to a maiden resource estimate.

Turaco Gold (TCG): This West Arican gold explorer is another junior to have shaken off the broader mining and exploration market’s doleful start to 2024.

It has come up from 7c in November to 12c mid-week for a market cap of $68 million.

The November trigger was the company’s agreement to acquire a 70% interest in the advanced Afema gold project in southeast Cote d’Ivoire.

The project has pretty much been idle since Canada’s Teranga Gold was over taken by the $US4.1 billion and London-listed Endeavour Mining in early 2021.

The cash and shares deal with the West African gold heavyweight Endeavour for Turaco to pick up the running Afema resulted in Endeavour emerging as a 9% Turaco shareholder.

Cote d’Ivoire is where the ASX champion of West African gold, the $2.3 billion Perseus, has two operating mines. They been showing up the Aussie producers with their sub-$US1,000/oz production.

Previous work at Afema yielded the Woulo Woulo discovery. It is typical West African stuff – consistent, shallow and broad mineralisation encountered along 2.9km of strike and remaining open.

It means ounces can quickly build-up in to a sizeable resource. Then follows a decision to mine the high-margin ounces, or get taken over, as is so often the case in that part of the world.

Turaco boss Justin Tremain knows all about the latter. He was previously managing director of Exore Resources which was taken over by Perseus for $65m.

He was also founding managing director of Renaissance Minerals which was taken over by Emerald Resources in 2016. But that was Cambodia, not West Africa.

The Afema land package is considered ripe for more discoveries, with several “priority’’ geochemical and geophysical anomalies yet to be tested by drilling.
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