The market is a gloomy place at the moment. But mineral explorers with active drilling campaigns can provide a ray of sunshine every now and then when they hit something interesting.

Tolga Kumova’s Alderan (ASX:(AL8) is a recent example. It shares popped in November after news that drilling at its Accrington prospect in Utah had returned thick and high-grade copper intersections.

Admittedly, the share price spike was more about recapturing ground lost by Alderan from when it was trading at much higher levels.

But at least the latest results (including 54m at 1.4 per cent copper from 45m with other metals) is a reward for the company doing what it is supposed to be doing – exploring for a potential game-changing discovery.

In Alderan’s case, Accrington – surrounded as it is by Rio Tinto which operates the big Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah – looks as it just might have the makings of something special, if additional drilling match the latest results.

Identifying other explorers with drilling programs that could be worth watching requires diligent scanning of ASX announcements, and an assessment of whether or not a particular program has particular merit.

Fortunately for Garimpeiro, Perth broker Hartleys has done the hard yards on that front this week. It has come up with four new exploration campaigns across five ASX juniors.

As always, the exploration game is a highly risky business — there is no guarantee of any success with the programs. But at least the juniors involved are having a crack.

Five go on a treasure hunt

The drilling campaigns to keep on eye on, according to Hartleys, are those by Bellevue Gold (BGL), Graphex Mining (GPX), PNX Metals (PNX) and the combined campaign of Ausgold (AUC) and Intrepid (IAU).

BGL: Readers of this space know the Bellevue story well. The recent discovery of the high-grade Viago lode has carried the resource base at the historic project to more than 1 million oz and another big boost is expected in the March quarter next year from a stepped up drilling program involving the double-shifting of three drilling rigs.

GPX: It has just finished a drilling program at its highly rated Chilalo graphite project in southeast Tanzania. The potential price kicker for the stock comes from the results from the campaign being fed in to an updated resource estimate, the launching point for the completion of a bankable feasibility study next year.

PNX: The company has added a gold leg to its story in the Northern Territory where it has ambitions to develop the Hayes Creek zinc and precious metals project. Interest in the gold leg has been stirred by gold exploration success at Cookies Corner which defined a 500m strike length of mineralisation.

Best results included 20m at 1.93g/t gold from 12m and 6m at 3.72g/t from 71m in another hole.

PNX is following up with a 20-hole program, with results likely in December.

While Hartleys has no formal coverage of the other stocks mentioned today, it has a “speculative” buy (dated September 12) of 2.2c on PNX.

AUC/IAU: Intrepid is farming in to Ausgold’s Doolgunna Station project in an effort to find the Bryah Basin’s next DeGrussa copper-gold deposit, owned by Sandfire. The 2,400m diamond drilling program is co-funded by a $150,000 grant from WA’s exploration incentive scheme.

Doolgunna Station sits 13km to the west and along a trend from DeGrussa, a volcanic hosted massive sulphide copper-gold system. Plutonic-style mineralisation will also be tested. Intrepid can earn a 70% interest by spending $2.15m over the next two years.