Like anyone else who lives outside of Western Australia, bustling mining investor Tolga Kumova wasn’t able to make it to the WA-only Diggers & Dealers bash in Kalgoorlie last week.

He was restricted to his home base in bayside Melbourne where a garage gym has allowed him to keep up a buff appearance despite having to endure the physical constraints of one of the world’s most severe COVID lockdowns.

So D&D missed out on his bonhomie at Kalgoorlie’s watering holes, and his sponsorship of the kebab shop for the 3am feeds needed by those delegates in survival mode after a night out on the town.

But that didn’t stop Tolga moving on to another exploration play.

Announced while D&D was underway, his latest move involves Raiden Resources (ASX:RDN) which has struck a deal to add a Pilbara gold and nickel leg to its existing Balkans gold-copper exploration story.

Raiden plans a $3 million placement at 1.3c a share in support of its Pilbara deal which involves it acquiring a 75% interest in a portfolio of properties from a privately owned group which, in turn, is acquiring the interest from Canada’s Pacton Gold.

Raiden shares took off from 2.1c to 4.4c on news of the Pilbara deal before closing out the week at 3.7c.

Tolga is likely to hold around 10% of Raiden once the deal – it is subject to due diligence – is all said and done, introducing him and Raiden as new players in the Pilbara’s unfolding gold story.

“I’ve got my own De Grey play,” Tolga quipped last week.

It was a reference to the major exploration success of De Grey (ASX:DEG) in the Pilbara.

Pumping more than iron

As mentioned previously by Garimpeiro, the Pilbara’s ranking as a gold province (8m ounce gold endowment) has long suffered in comparisons with the Yilgarn down south (200m ounces).

But last December’s Hemi discovery by De Grey has put the Pilbara on the map as a hotspot for gold, notwithstanding the region’s status as the biggest source of iron ore in the world.

Early enthusiasm for the Hemi find carried De Grey to a $230m market cap by March this year. The growing scale of the find since has seen its market cap grow to $1.65 billion.

The flagship property in the Raiden deal is the Arrow project which is located adjacent to and along strike from De Grey’s Mallina project, home to the Hemi discovery to the north-east.

Arrow covers 10km of the Berghaus Shear Zone, one of the key structural ingredients in the region for large-scale intrusion-related discoveries like that made by De Grey at Hemi.

One of the themes to emerge from this year’s D&D was the growing importance of the Pilbara’s gold potential.

De Grey managing director Glenn Jardine said the company had set itself a target before the end of the 2021FY to demonstrate the “Tier 1 gold production potential of Hemi,’’ as well as demonstrating the potential of the greater Hemi area and beyond.

To be considered a Tier 1 operation, Hemi would have to shape up as a producer of 300,000 ounces annually for at least 10 years.

David Reeves, managing director of Pilbara gold developer Calidus (ASX:CAI), told D&D that the company’s Warrawoona project was near Marble Bar which claims to be the hottest town in Australia.

“I would argue that the Pilbara is actually one of the hottest spots for gold in Australia as we stand today.’’

Calidus is working towards starting construction of the 90,000 ounce-a-year Warrawoona in the first quarter of 2021.

The resource base at the project currently stands at 1.5 million ounces and remains along strike, and at depth.