There was loads happening in December, traditionally a pretty quiet month because everyone mentally checks out ahead of the Christmas/New Year break.

Gold ended 2019 on a 14-week high to record its strongest year since 2010. Amazing stuff.

And the general feeling is that it has further to run in 2020 – hence the popularity of gold stocks right now.

An incredible 43 per cent of our top 50 small cap miners or explorers are gold focused. Copper comes in a distant second at 15.5 per cent.

Iron ore prices have subsided since that early 2019 surge but still remain at an “usually high level” to average around $US80 ($116) a tonne for the year, according to the latest Resources & Energy Quarterly report.

Furthermore –“prices are not likely to retreat much further in the short term, as iron ore markets remain tight and iron ore stocks remain near five-year lows,” the report stated.

Nickel is out of favour (again) following that heady price surge mid to late 2019, but copper bulls reckon the red metal could be the next big thing.

Beaten down battery metals will likely experience a tough year – much like 2019 – before recovering in 2021.

But who knows what’s going to happen? No one, that’s who.

>>Scroll to the end for December’s Top 50 resources performers

 

TOP 5 STOCKS: DECEMBER

No goldies included in our top 5 this time (just to mix it up).

 

#1 Gibb River Diamonds (ASX:GIB) +158%

Market Cap: $11.64m

Christmas came early for Gibb River Diamonds when it acquired the mothballed Ellendale diamond mine in the West Kimberley region of WA. At (almost) no cost.

Ellendale has already produced 1.3 million carats, which includes over 50 per cent of global annual production of ‘fancy yellow’ diamonds.

It closed in 2015 when the previous owners went into administration — but there is still “enormous potential” for a profitable diamond mining operation, Gibb River told shareholders.

“There are numerous exciting opportunities available at Ellendale which GIB has acquired for simply the cost of pegging the leases, with no legacy liabilities,” the company says.

“The company is looking forward to an active 2020.”

 

#2 Legend Mining (ASX:LEG) +109%

Market Cap: $194m

Legend, which counts renowned prospector Mark Creasy as a major shareholder, was tipped to have made a Nova-style nickel-copper discovery after it went into a trading halt back on November 28, and then suspension on December 2.

On December 9 the discovery was confirmed – Legend’s third hole at ‘Mawson’ had returned a 2.1m intersection grading 2.03 per cent nickel, 1.34 percent copper and 0.11 per cent cobalt from a depth of 115.5m. The stock went on a huge run.

“This discovery hole at Mawson is an outstanding exploration success and a watershed moment for all Legend stakeholders and indeed all of the Fraser Range,” managing director Mr Mark Wilson said.

“The 2.1m high-grade intercept within a 14.9m sulphide zone is within a 70m disseminated sulphide halo and has all the hallmarks of a large mineralised system.”

READ: Barry FitzGerald — Has Legend found another Nova?

 

#3 MRG Metals (ASX:MRQ) +109%

Market Cap: $27.6m

The share price of this heavy mineral sands explorer is now at its highest level since 2016 on some strong December news flow.

Drilling at the mammoth Koka Massava discovery in Mozambique returned high grades up to 17.64 per cent total heavy minerals near-surface, which the company said demonstrated “the robust nature of the mineralisation”.

The stock subsequently surged a little too much, prompting a please-explain from the ASX.

The company followed up with another update, announcing plans to extend the drilling footprint at Koka Massava as it looks to prove up a resource in 2020.

READ: These gems are hunting for riches in African mineral sands, NSW porphyry copper-gold

 

#5 EHR Resources (ASX:EHX) +100%

Market Cap: $10m

Peru focused gold-silver explorer EHR was treading water for much of the year — frustrated by permitting delays — before a surprise pivot into diamonds revitalised the stock.

In December, EHR announced it would be acquiring Canada-based Nanuk Diamonds in a $1m deal.

The 274sqkm project area contains several occurrences of diamond-bearing kimberlitic dykes that were originally found in the early 2000s but were left unexplored for the last 15 years, the company says.

“The acquisition of Nanuk Diamonds provides an excellent, low-cost, point of entry to the diamonds sector for EHX, and we look forward to progressing work at Nanuk in the northern summer of 2020, as well as seeking other opportunities in diamond exploration,” chairman Stephen Dennis says.

 

#9 Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) +76%

Market Cap: $34.5m

New York fund Lind Partners invested $6.3m into disruptive battery play Lithium Australia in early December, sending the stock on a strong run.

Lithium Australia wants to make money in three ways — by producing advanced battery cathode powders, selling storage batteries in JV with a Chinese firm, and recycling old batteries through its Envirostream subsidiary.

A week later, the Envirostream Australia plant shipped first product; a high-value mixed metal dust containing cobalt, nickel, lithium and graphite.

This represented “another important milestone in terms of revenue generation”, says managing director Adrian Griffin.

WATCH: 90 Seconds With…Adrian Griffin, Lithium Australia

 

Here’s the top 50 mining small caps for the month of December>>>

Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort. Best viewed on a laptop

CODE NAME % RETURN PRICE 01 DEC PRICE 01 JAN MARKET CAP
GIB GIBB RIVER DIAMONDS 158 0.024 0.062 11.64M
LEG LEGEND MINING 109 0.043 0.090 194.51M
MRQ MRG METALS 109 0.011 0.023 27.66M
ACP AUDALIA RESOURCES 100 0.003 0.006 3.85M
ARO ASTRO RESOURCES 100 0.001 0.002 2.54M
EHX EHR RESOURCES 100 0.032 0.064 10.01M
SHK STONE RESOURCES AUSTRALIA 100 0.001 0.002 1.67M
WWI WEST WITS MINING 80 0.005 0.009 10.31M
LIT LITHIUM AUSTRALIA 76 0.034 0.060 34.52M
KFE KOGI IRON 73 0.041 0.071 51.09M
VAL VALOR RESOURCES 67 0.003 0.005 9.47M
ELT ELEMENTOS 50 0.002 0.003 4.63M
KGM KALNORTH GOLD MINES 50 0.004 0.006 4.47M
NTM NTM GOLD 45 0.055 0.080 46.66M
SVL SILVER MINES 45 0.083 0.120 104.10M
FEX FENIX RESOURCES 43 0.037 0.053 16.17M
AML AEON METALS 43 0.105 0.150 115.19M
SCN SCORPION MINERALS 40 0.010 0.014 2.48M
PSC PROSPECT RESOURCES 38 0.130 0.180 48.15M
AGD AUSTRAL GOLD 38 0.065 0.090 50.35M
IRD IRON ROAD 37 0.054 0.074 57.58M
ATU ATRUM COAL 37 0.285 0.390 183.79M
TMR TEMPUS RESOURCES 34 0.160 0.215 9.35M
SYR SYRAH RESOURCES 34 0.350 0.470 219.15M
AYR ALLOY RESOURCES 33 0.002 0.002 4.18M
AYM AUSTRALIA UNITED MINING 33 0.003 0.004 7.37M
AZI ALTA ZINC 33 0.006 0.008 19.82M
ADV ARDIDEN 33 0.003 0.004 7.11M
GES GENESIS RESOURCES 33 0.003 0.004 3.13M
SMI SANTANA MINERALS 33 0.003 0.004 10.74M
NVA NOVA MINERALS 33 0.033 0.044 44.74M
CY5 CYGNUS GOLD 33 0.033 0.044 2.59M
ABR AMERICAN PACIFIC BORATES 33 0.260 0.345 80.38M
CHN CHALICE GOLD MINES 32 0.170 0.225 71.26M
POD PODIUM MINERALS 32 0.031 0.041 6.65M
KGD KULA GOLD 32 0.028 0.037 2.18M
ARD ARGENT MINERALS 29 0.014 0.018 11.39M
BOC BOUGAINVILLE COPPER 27 0.255 0.325 108.29M
PGI PANTERRA GOLD 27 0.033 0.042 8.20M
AHQ ALLEGIANCE COAL 27 0.130 0.165 89.19M
PEC PERPETUAL RESOURCES 25 0.036 0.045 14.94M
BSX BLACKSTONE MINERALS 25 0.120 0.150 32.59M
CAV CARNAVALE RESOURCES 25 0.002 0.002 2.99M
CTO CITIGOLD CORP 25 0.004 0.005 12.01M
CZN CORAZON MINING 25 0.002 0.002 8.35M
GGG GREENLAND MINERALS 24 0.105 0.130 154.83M
JRL JINDALEE RESOURCES 24 0.255 0.315 12.13M
DAV DAVENPORT RESOURCES 23 0.035 0.043 7.00M
CMM CAPRICORN METALS 22 1.005 1.230 401.08M
SYA SAYONA MINING 22 0.009 0.011 33.11M