Junior exploration stories don’t come much bigger than De Grey (ASX:DEG) and its Hemi gold discovery in the Pilbara.

Ahead of first drill results from Hemi in late 2019, De Grey’s market cap was $50 million. It is now a $1.7 billion company.

That makes it a 33-bagger inside of 17 months – the sort of dream return that gets investors in the junior exploration space up in the morning.

Hemi has continued to grow in scale, with De Grey drilling away with 10 rigs working up new targets, confirming new discoveries in the broader region, and defining just what it has found to date.

Importantly, a maiden resource estimate (MRE) is due mid-year. Given the company’s market cap, there are no prizes for guessing just how big the MRE will be.

Bell Potter said in April that it was anticipating a potential MRE range for Hemi of between 4.9 million ounces and 7.3Moz for a midpoint of 6.1Moz, remembering that the mid-year MRE is likely to be stepping stone to that sort of potential.

Today’s interest though is what the mid-year maiden MRE will mean for the junior explorers in the Pilbara trying to find the next Hemi, an intrusion-related find which was a first for the Pilbara.

Confirmation come mid-year that Hemi is indeed big, seriously big, can be expected to renew interest in the broader Pilbara gold hunt for intrusion-related gold by a band of juniors hoping to match De Grey’s success.

Juniors with the Hemi gold touch?

Is there another 33-bagger amongst them? It’s impossible to say.

What is more certain is that after spending last year doing all the things needed to be done to work up Hemi-like targets on their own ground, there’s a bunch of juniors ready to put them to the test with the drill bit.

Garimpeiro has put together a list of names that could be worth watching on that basis in coming months, remembering that interest in the campaigns is bound to pick up once De Grey gets that maiden MRE into the market:

Kairos (ASX:KAI): Trading at 3c a share. It has defined multiple gold targets at it Skywell prospect. Six of the new targets are associated with intrusive-style gold mineralisation and represent priority targets for first phase drilling in coming months.

Carnaby (ASX:CNB): Trading at 41c a share. It created some excitement recently at its Strelley project in the Pilbara where intrusive-hosted gold was intersected for the first time, highlighting what it said was the potential for “Hemi style” mineralisation. Follow up drilling is being planned.

Golden State Mining (ASX:GSM): Trading at 12c a share: It is ready to go with a drilling program across its lightly explored Yule project for both intrusive and shear-hosted gold targets that it refined in a busy 2020 field season. Part of the Yule project area is 15km to the south-east of Hemi.

Raiden (ASX:RDN): Trading at 2.4c. It is looking for Tier 1 copper-gold deposits in Eastern Europe but is also waiting on aeromagnetic survey results to define targets for a maiden drilling program for Hemi-style gold at its Arrow project area in the Pilbara. Tolga Kumova is cheering Raiden on as an 8% shareholder.

Kalamazoo (ASX:KZR): Trading at 41c. Better known for its Ashburton gold project in Pilbara and its big footprint in the Victorian goldfields. But at its Sisters project, along the same shear zone as De Grey’s Hemi, five drill targets have been defined for drilling, planned for the June quarter.

There is no particular order to the above list and there are lots of other juniors that have Hemi-style gold in their sights – all of which will have the spotlight turned on them (again) once De Grey confirms Hemi as biggun come mid-year.