Richard Morrow, the veteran stockbroker and long-time supporter of the Victorian mining and exploration industry, has got the spring back in his step.

There are two reasons for that.

First up, he has been able to get back on to the golf course as Melbourne’s lockdown begins to ease.

Morrow’s first golf swing in more than a year did not go well, failing to pass the Ladies tee, or as the woke amongst us would say, the forward tee.

Exciting to be back on the fairways, nevertheless.

His other cause for excitement is the pending announcement by the State government of the winning tenders for hot exploration blocks surrounding the high-grade Fosterville gold mine near Bendigo.

Fosterville, owned by Canada’s Kirkland Lake (which plans to merge with fellow Canadian Agnico Eagle in a $US24 billion deal), is one of the world’s most profitable gold mines thanks to the 2016 discovery of the Swan Zone with its two ounce-a-tonne dirt.

The find triggered an exploration rush to find the “next Fosterville” and prompted the State government to parcel up four surrounding exploration blocks for a tender process that has been more than two years in the making.

Morrow – also honorary chair of the Melbourne Mining Club where Garimpeiro serves as a committee member – reckons the announcement of the winning tenders is sure to fire up interest in the Victorian gold hunt again.

“The Fosterville blocks have attracted a lot of attention because they are along strike and geographically close to Fosterville. And Fosterville of course is one of the highest grade gold mines in the world,’’ Morrow said.

“More than 30 companies have pitched for them, and I understand some of them have bid some pretty impressive numbers (in their proposed exploration programs). The latest advice is the winning tenders will be announced at the end of November,’’ he said.

“While it has been painful wait for the bidders, they had to be in tender because the best place to find a high-grade mine is next to a high-grade mine.’’

Garimpeiro previously passed on that Navarre (ASX:NML, trading at 8.6c), Catalyst Metals (ASX:CYL, $1.98), Kalamazoo (ASX:KZR, 33c) and Chalice (ASX:CHN, $6.27) were among the mix.

The only update with those names is that Catalyst has said its bid for three of the blocks up for tender is a joint venture with Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, and Chalice has said it will be spinning out its Victorian gold assets in to a new ASX company (Falcon Metals) while it concentrates on its Tier 1 Julimar PGE-nickel-copper discovery in WA.

While the Fosterville ground release is the big buzz in the Victorian scene at the moment, Morrow reckons there is also a broader buzz in the State because the exploration field season is just hitting its straps after the winter break. Exploration expenditure is at record levels too.

Garimpeiro hit him up for some names he is following.

Victor Victoria

Navarre: Apart from being in the mix for the Fosterville blocks, the company has been active on the corporate front.

It has just struck a $40m upfront deal to acquire the 50,000 ounce-a-year Mt Carlton gold mine in Queensland from Evolution, with Evolution becoming a 12.9% Navarre shareholder.

Now, Mt Carlton is a long way from the Victorian goldfields. But Morrow sees the acquisition as a funding mechanism.

“Explorers can’t just keep coming back to the market and diluting their shareholders with equity raisings,’’ Morrow said.

“With the Mt Carlton deal, they have been able to pick up a 50,000 ounce-a-year year gold mine, as well as getting the support of new major shareholder in Evolution.

“If they play their cards right this will end up funding their exploration, not unlike Catalyst has done with its pick-up of the Henty gold mine in Tassie.’’

Mawson Gold (TSX:MAW, C17.5c): The Toronto-listed Mawson has been hitting high-grade gold and antimony at Sunday Creek, all of 50km north of Melbourne.

“It is an interesting one and it is lot easier nowadays for the average investor to access overseas markets,’’ Morrow said. “It’s almost in Melbourne’s northern suburbs!’’

Dart Mining (ASX:DTM, 13.5c): The company was an early mover in northeast Victoria while all others were focussed on the central goldfields. As a result, it has an abundance of high-grade gold projects in a region known for its historic production.

“Its market cap is all of $14m and they have got some really interesting stuff. I like the land package the first mover advantage has given them, and they have had some early gold success,’’ Morrow said.

Dart recently added a lithium exploration leg to its story.