Over the past month Stockhead has been keeping you all up to date with as many ASX listed explorers as we can find posting maiden resources in 2023.

There will be more as drill rigs strike paydirt and companies run the numbers on their new discoveries.

So far we’ve covered lithium and gold explorers poised to consummate their long (or in some cases Vegas short) engagement with their resources, putting a ring and/or pit shell on it and posting some hard numbers on how much mineral wealth they have at their disposal.

READ: Which lithium explorers are ready to bowl a maiden this year on the ASX?

READ: Which explorers are unlocking the treasure chest with maiden gold and copper resources in 2023?
It should be noted, a resource doesn’t mean you have a viable operation.

So much more has to stack up, from metallurgy (i.e. can you process the damn thing and actually separate your target metal from the waste) to economics to regulatory and community approval.

But having a maiden resource is an absolute pre-requisite to getting any project of substance off the ground.

Today we’re taking a look at some rare earths, nickel and base metal explorers who could be ready to walk the aisle and get serious with their projects in 2023.



Put this one in the so close you can taste it category. Tolga Kumova-backed Aston entered a trading halt on Friday to prep the nickel and cobalt resource at its Bardwell discovery in Canada.

It is not the first time Aston has posted runs on the board this year. It announced a 1.5Moz gold bounty at the nearby Edleston deposit earlier on in 2023.

But Bardwell is the main game. The nickel sulphides at Bardwell are low grade but appear, on the face of drilling results over the past couple years, to be large in nature.

Hits from drilling announced to the market in November include 217.35m at 0.28% Ni and 0.012% Co starting from 288.5m, ending in mineralisation, 304.38m at 0.25% Ni and 0.011% Co starting from 15.2m and 269.5m at 0.27% Ni and 0.01% Co starting from 138.5m, ending in mineralisation.

Drilling has also intercepted large, low grade nickel intercepts at the B2 prospect some 3km north of Bardwell North, including 181m at 0.28% Ni and 0.012% Co starting from 67.5m, including 35.06m at 0.49% Ni and 0.015% Co.

Aston initially surged on gold strikes in 2021 before its discovery hit at Bardwell of 53.5m at 0.49% Ni & 0.017% Co, near the Boomerang target where it found 287m of nickel sulphides at 0.3% Ni. That prompted comparisons to Sibanye’s Santa Rita and BHP’s (ASX:BHP) Mt Keith mine.

How apropos those comparisons are remains to be seen; Aston shares have tracked down 45% over the past 12 months.


Aston Minerals (ASX:ASO) share price today:



Meteoric Resource sold its Juruena gold project in Brazil for an impressive staged deal recouping up to US$22 million ($30m), leaving the explorer with plenty of cash to walk in the door to reinvest in drilling.

It wasted little time, tapping into local networks to acquire the “Tier-1” Caldeira mine, where clays have been extracted for 112 years in the mining state (literally) of Minas Gerais.

Owned by a family company, the project has previously been dug up for clays used in bricks and roof tiles as well as refractory products for use in furnaces and kilns in steel, aluminium, non-ferrous metals, industrial minerals, glass and ceramics.

Under Meteoric it will be reinvented as a rare earths project, with shallow auger drilling of six of its 30 licences before MEI’s acquisition demonstrating its potential to host large, high grade rare earth ionic clays over a 15km scale that remains open at depth.

Of 1311 shallow holes drilled, over 85% finished with grades in excess of 1000ppm total rare earth oxides, with 22% of those magnet rare earths terbium, dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium.

“Meteoric is fully funded for its 2023 exploration activities on the Caldeira Project, owing to the sale of the Juruena Gold Project, that was announced in June 2022, with the final payment tranche of USD$17.5M due in March 2023,” MEI MD Andrew Tunks said on announcing the deal last year.

“Exploration activities at Caldeira will commence with diamond drilling to validate the depth extent of mineralisation, mineral resource estimation, regional target evaluation and additional metallurgical testwork.”

MEI has already looked into the processing potential of the deposit, with initial met test work showing “excellent recoveries” using ammonium sulphate in weakly acidic, PH4 conditions. Low temp magnet REE praseodymium and neodymium recoveries averaged 58%, with high temperature magnet REE terbium and dysprosium averaged recoveries of 43%.

Drilling began in late January, with a maiden resource expected early in the June quarter.


Meteoric Resources (ASX:MEI) share price today:



ChemX has a fair few irons in the fire, with kaolin, high purity alumina, manganese and rare earths all on its mind.

Its most recent step has been to take former Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) CEO Mark Tory on board as its CEO, with Global Lithium Resources (ASX:GL1) chair Warrick Hazeldine also stepping into the fray as its new chair.

The company is looking into the prospect of developing a high purity manganese sulphate monohydrate plant in South Australia, leveraging the prospectivity of the Eyre Peninsula for the material.

If that seems like a mouthful, abbreviate it like the pros. HPMSM is a form of 99.8% or so pure manganese chemical used in lithium ion batteries.

And it is a type of product where the market’s biggest players see high levels of growth this decade thanks to the march of the electric vehicle sector.

READ: South32 thinks electric vehicle batteries could account for 30% of manganese demand by 2030. Who’s along for the ride?

ChemX kicked off a 5000m plus drill drive at its Jamieson Tank project in SA in January, with the eight week project planned to give the company the confidence to post a maiden mineral resource on its battery manganese assets.

An ‘advanced metallurgical test work program’ is ongoing.


ChemX Materials (ASX:CMX) share price today:




America has just one major rare earths mine, the MP Materials project at Mountain Pass in California’s Clark mountain range.

It is a source of great concern and consternation for the Biden Administration, which has laid out tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act to prioritise using domestic US or free-trade aligned critical minerals in local manufacturing.

American Rare Earths established a resource at its La Paz project in Arizona a couple years ago, currently boasting 170Mt of ore, where ARR is planning to grow its resource base to upwards of 1Bt.

But the next cab off the rank is a maiden JORC 2012 resource estimate at the Halleck Creek project in Wyoming, a project with a globally significant exploration target of 1.01-1.27Bt of rare earth mineralised rocks.

A resource is expected this quarter after recent drilling extended ARR’s mineralised rare earths zone at Halleck Creek by 50% this month, hitting rare earth bearing rocks to a depth of 150m.

“These are outstanding results as previous core drilling had confirmed mineralisation to only 100m,” MD and CEO Chris Gibbs said.

“Just as importantly, mineralisation is open at depth. These results further enhance our belief that the Halleck Creek district is one of the largest, rare earth deposits on a global scale.

“It’s also shaping up to be a key strategic project for the US as it seeks to develop its own critical minerals supply chain to resource the renewable future and reduce dependence on China.”


American Rare Earths (ASX:ARR) share price today:



Lindian Resources expects to deliver a maiden mineral resource estimate at its Kangankunde project in Malawi in the second quarter of 2023.

While many emerging rare earths players are looking to reinvent the wheel by producing rare earths from ionic clays outside of China, Kangankunde is well understood brownfields hard rock asset where test work for gravity separation of monazite by majors Lonrho (now Lonmin) and the French Government’s Bureau de Recherches Geologiques et Miniere previously reported 60% recovery of monazite with a grade of 60% rare earths in a mineral concentrate.

Drilling results have already been positive since the project was acquired in a US$30 million deal by Asimwe Kabunga chaired Lindian in August last year, recent assays confirming the neodymium and praseodymium content of the rare earths as between 19-21%.

The most recent assays intersected rare earths at grades of up to 14.4% TREO, with an average 21% concentration of magnet rare earths neodymium and praseodymium.

Significant hits included 179m at 2.2% TREO including a best intercept to date of 35m at 3.94% TREO from surface, 210m from surface to end of hole averaging 1.92% TREO and 162m from surface to end of hole at 2.16% TREO.

Assays have shown Lindian’s resource is so far low in radioactive materials with very low uranium and thorium composition.

“Assays reported from the first 14 holes drilled to date have consistently shown high-grade, very broad intercepts, a high NdPr ratio and non-radioactive
mineralisation,” Lindian CEO Alistair Stephens, MD of billion dollar capped rare earths developer Arafura (ASX:ARU) between 2004 and 2009, said.

“As drilling advances we expect these characteristics to be repeated, underpinning our confidence that Kangankunde is without doubt shaping up as one of the world’s most significant rare earths deposits. Our Mineral Resource Estimate to be reported in the second quarter of calendar 2023 will confirm this.”


Lindian Resources (ASX:LIN) share price today:



The Narraburra rare earths project in the New South Wales Riverina, where Godolphin is earning a 75% stake, already has a mineral resource of sorts.

Its previously reported inferred mineral resource estimate of 73.2Mt at 1250g/t ZrO2, 327g/t REO, 146g/t Y2O3, 126g/t Nb2O5, 45g/t HfO2, 54g/tGa2O3 and 118g/t Li2O was tabulated by previous owner Capital Mining under the JORC 2004 Code.

Ergo, it doesn’t really count.

But 2004 qualified resources can be a good starting point for a JORC 2012 mineral resource, because it means drilling data is already there to help establish an official number.

Godolphin, which saw JV partner Orange Minerals (ASX:OMX) post a ~50,000oz maiden gold resource at the Calarie project in NSW GRL itself has farmed out last week, reckons a maiden upgraded MRE is due this quarter.

Its maiden 31-hole drill program at Narraburra confirmed rare earths mineralisation, including eight holes which struck mineralisation outside of the known rare earths deposit.

“We look forward to continuing with exploration to define the ultimate size potential of the deposit,” managing director Jeneta Owens said.

“The latest results confirm TREOs are present in the shallower clay and saprock zones, which can lead to near‐term, low‐cost mining opportunities and expedited extraction to generate potential project funding and offtake interest.

“The company is now commencing metallurgical test work with mineralogical studies, while exploring additional exploration opportunities to gain further understanding of the larger system at Narraburra.

“Godolphin will utilise the results from all 31 Godolphin holes drilled to date at the Project, as the basis for an updated Mineral Resource Estimate to JORC (2012) standard. Work towards this calculation is underway and we expect to provide further updates on the upgraded MRE during the current quarter.”


Godolphin Resources (ASX:GRL) share price today:



Meeka already boasts a 1.2Moz resource at its advanced Murchison Gold Project, where it is aiming to redevelop the Andy Well gold mine, broader gold field and plant previously mined by Doray Minerals.

An initial resource for the exciting St Anne’s discovery is due in the March quarter with a PFS due in June 2023.

But it has drawn just as much interest for its Circle Valley rare earths discovery, where the Tim Davidson led firm is targeting a 15km2 area with shallow high grade rare earths grading as high as 6894ppm TREO in 2022.

A maiden resource at Circle Valley is due in the June 2023 quarter after drilling results from the current program are returned through February and March, alongside met test work to support future economic studies.

“Results received in 2022 show a shallowing cover profile to the northwest at Circle Valley, corresponding with a +1,000ppm high-grade component of the rare earth mineralisation, rich in NdPr magnet rare earth elements,” Meeka MD Davidson said last month.

“This shallow high-grade mineralisation trends northwest into an undrilled part of Circle Valley, which will be the focus for Mineral Resource drilling now underway. This drilling will enable delivery of an initial rare earth Mineral Resource during the June 2023 quarter.”


Meeka Metals (ASX:MEK) share price today:



Veteran rock critic Barry Fitzgerald is confident Rumble Resources is due for a rerate once the maiden resource at its 75% owned (25% owned by Zenith) Earaheedy zinc-lead discovery near Wiluna is released.

The strike was one of the finds of the year in 2021, but Rumble has since faded back into obscurity.

Rumble shares rose almost sevenfold in the month after making the Earaheedy discovery in April 2021.

The initial find at Chinook came in two sterling RC holes which intersected 34m at 4.22% Zn + Pb from 66m, including 17m at 6.65 % Zn + Pb from 73m, and 21m at 4.31% Zn + Pb from 61m, including 10m at 5.02 % Zn + Pb from 67m.

Subsequent drilling, backed by a $40 million placement after the Earaheedy discovery, has identified high grade copper and silver discoveries as well and the Tonka-Navajoh trend, with a maiden JORC resource due in the first half of 2023.

The number there will go someway to showing whether Rumble can return to market darling status.


Rumble Resources (ASX:RTR) and Zenith Minerals (ASX:ZNC) share prices today:


GTI Energy (ASX:GTR)

GTI Energy is exploring for uranium over 14,000ha of land in the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, home to UR Energy’s operating Lost Creek ISR Facility and Rio Tinto’s Kennecott copper mill.

Adjacent to UR’s 18Mlb Lost Creek deposit, GTI is just about ready to post a maiden resource after identifying over 39,000 feet or 7.5 miles of uranium mineralised trends across the basin at the major Thor prospect and the Odin, Teebo and Loki targets, with GTI guiding a release before the end of the March quarter.

In situ recovery, the chosen method of mining and processing at the Beverley and Honeymoon mines in South Australia, was commercialised in 1974 in Wyoming and has the lowest cost and smallest environmental impact when it comes to uranium mining.

Like rare earths players, uranium companies think the energy transition will provide a serious boost for their prospects, with countries expected to extend the life of their nuclear fleets due to the low emissions nature of the baseload energy source.


GTI Energy (ASX:GTR) share price today:



A handful of nickel, rare earths and polymetallic stocks have beaten us to the punch, posting maiden resources already in early 2023.

They include Mark Creasy-backed Legend Mining (ASX:LEG), which finally has the maiden resource for its Mawson nickel discovery in the Fraser Range.

Nova it is not, but this month’s resource at the very least makes Mawson only the third official deposit on the shy, heavily clothed region of WA’s east, where Sirius Resources made its company making nickel discovery in 2012.

The resource, 70% in the indicated category, includes 1.45Mt at 1.14% Ni, 0.74% Cu, and 0.07% Co (1.2% nickel equivalent). That amounts to 28,200t of contained metal including 16,500t of nickel, 10,600t of copper and 1100t of cobalt.

“The rationale to publish this resource at Mawson was to quantify the success of our exploration efforts to date and to establish a base upon which we can continue to build a resource inventory at our Rockford Project,” Legend MD Mark Wilson said on the resource announcement.

“This is the third published nickel resource in the Fraser Range (after IGO’s Nova and Silver Knight), demonstrating that this under explored nickel belt has the potential to host further accumulations of nickel-copper sulphide.

“Our ongoing systematic exploration efforts will look to discover more of these accumulations across Rockford.

“We are looking forward to receipt of the Octagonal 3D seismic model and the reprocessed model for Mawson as a basis to plan diamond drilling for the upcoming field season as set out in our December 2022 Quarterly Report. Meanwhile, the regional aircore drilling and innovative high power EM surveys are ongoing.”

American West Metals (ASX:AW1) is another that bolted out of the blocks with a resource in 2023, upgrading the foreign resource at its West Desert deposit near Salt Lake City in Utah.

The first JORC 2012 resource for West Desert included 33.7Mt at 3.83% zinc, 0.15% copper and 9g/t silver in indicated and inferred resources, 81% in the higher indicated category.

Of that 18.7Mt at 2.8% zinc, 0.12% copper and 11g/t silver is considered open pitable with 15Mt at 5.2% zinc, 0.18% copper and 7g/t silver in an underground resource close to the open pit.

At 1.3Mt of zinc metal, 49,000t of copper and 10Moz of silver, the Australian number is a 44% increase in zinc content on the 2014 non-JORC resource.

There is plenty more potential at the project in the world class Utah jurisdiction. The project is regarded as the largest indium deposit in the States, though that bounty has not been included in the MRE due to gaps in historic drilling.

Indium, a tin like by-product of production of other metals is used in the production of LCD screens. The high grade Copper Zone and 28Mt of high grade iron ore in the old foreign resource grading up to 68%, well above the 62% Fe Pilbara benchmark grade, may also present opportunities to add to West Desert’s potential.

AW1 MD Dave O’Neill said the resource exceeded the explorer’s expectations, suggesting “the potential for a globally significant mining operation”.

“West Desert is well located for future development and has received strong support from the local and federal government. The large resources and exciting growth opportunities at West Desert demonstrate the outstanding value of the project,” he said.

“The near term focus will be on expanding mineral resources followed by economic evaluation of the project. Drilling will recommence during Q2 2023.”


Legend Mining (ASX:LEG) and American West Metals (ASX:AW1) share prices today:


This series is intended to be a moving feast. If we’ve missed anyone get in touch and let us know at [email protected].

At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While American West Metals, GTI Energy, Meeka Metals and American Rare Earths are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.