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Top 5 ASX Gold Stocks

2023 was an eventful year for the gold price, which approached record highs in the first half of the year and broke through them in the second half.

The first half of the year was highlighted by gold making serious gains on the back of a regional banking crisis in the United States where a run on three banks in March threatened to upset the entire financial system. As investors ran for safe havens, gold pushed toward all-time highs reaching US$2,051.11 on May 4, as fears of the crisis becoming more widespread prevailed.

Following the events of May, gold trended downwards through October, aided by central banks around the world raising interest rates as they worked to bring inflation rates down to manageable levels. By October 4, the price of gold had fallen to US$1,821.08. However, attacks in Israel ignited investor fears of a broad regional conflict in the Middle East and sent the price of gold back up. By December 3, trading in the yellow metal had reached a fever pitch, and its price hit an intraday high of US$2,135.40.

Gold hit another milestone on December 27, when it closed the trading day at US$2,077.16, the highest ever close for the metal.

How have the high prices affected gold companies on the ASX? Keep reading to find out which companies saw the biggest gains in the past year.

1. Strickland Metals (ASX:STK)

Year-to-date gain: 185.71 percent; market cap: AU$204.05 million; current share price: AU$0.12

Strickland Metals (ASX:STK) is an exploration company with a portfolio of metals projects in Western Australia. Its primary focus is its Yandal East project, which hosts the Horse Well target. The company also owns the Bryah Basin gold-copper project in the Gascoyne region and the Iroquois zinc-lead-silver project in the Earaheedy Basin. Strickland sold its Millrose gold deposit to Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST,OTC Pink:NESRF) on July 25 for AU$61 million.

Shares of Strickland have soared since its September 19 release of partial results from its 40,000 metre drill program begun in August, along with the announcement of a previously unidentified gold trend at Horse Well, which it dubbed the Marwari trend, at which a drill core intersected a high-grade interval of 5.6 g/t gold over 31 metres.

More results from the program were released on September 27, at which time the company reported that Marwari extended at least 500 metres to the south of the initial discovery. Strickland also reported results from the Palomino prospect in the release, with drilling revealing an interval of 39 meters grading 6.1 g/t gold, including 7 metres at 22 g/t gold. Furthermore, the company reported that a reinterpretation of datasets at Horse Well indicated the likely presence of an approximately 3 kilometre strike extension to the northwest that has not been drilled, the company has not yet provided an update.

In an October 19 update from Marwari, Strickland reported that it employed magnetic inversion modelling to help better define the deposit. The testing extended the strike length to 700 metres and outlined a substantial new target beneath the current drilling.

Share prices in Strickland spiked following an exploration update on November 3, in which the company said it had completed the initial diamond drill hole at Marwari and elected to extend the original planned depth of the hole by 111 metres to a total depth of 291 metres.

On December 18, Strickland released results from four holes of the earlier drill program and three diamond drill holes. CEO Andrew Bray noted that among the earlier samples was a “spectacular intersection” of 7.4 g/t over 19 meters including 28 g/t of gold over 5 metres. However, the company reported that the three initial diamond drill holes were drilled too far east of the target, but still repeatedly encountered large zones of intense alteration typically seen at the outer edge of large gold systems. Further drilling was adjusted and results being returned in 2024 will help Strickland refine its mineralization model from the site.

2. Spartan Resources (ASX:SPR)

Year-to-date gain: 178.73 percent; market cap: AU$472.26 million; current share price: AU$0.49

Spartan Resources (ASX:SPR) is a gold exploration and development company whose core assets are located in Western Australia. Its flagship operation, the Dalgaranga gold project, produced 71,153 ounces of the metal in 2022 before being placed on care and maintenance as low grades reduced the mine’s viability. The company believes its discovery of the Never Never deposit will allow it to shift its focus at the site by providing higher-grade feed.

Company shares began to rise in May following an announcement that new assay results from Never Never had revealed significant mineralization from 110 metres below the core resource body. Exploration at the site indicated high-grade gold from near the surface to a depth of 500 metres, with one intercept hitting 35.47 grams per tonne (g/t) gold over 9.44 metres.

The high-grade assay results at Never Never were reinforced in June as continued drilling allowed Spartan to further define the depth of the resource and expand the envelope an additional 80 metres to the south.

On September 12, Spartan began a new 25,000 meter drill campaign at Dalgaranga. The plan was to cover a wide range of targets, including drilling to further extend the resource envelope for Never Never and exploring near-mine targets; the company said it would also drill the Arc prospect to the north and two new prospects to the south — called Four Pillars and West Wind, Spartan has said these new prospects are “Never Never look-alikes.”

The company released follow-up news on October 17, providing initial results from the drill program; they feature more high-grade assays from Never Never, along with samples from Arc, including a section of 8.33 g/t gold over 4 metres. Spartan also said it was targeting a new deposit located 1.6 kilometres north of Never Never, which it has named Patient Wolf; drilling at the site has revealed a highlight interval grading 19.84 g/t gold over 10 metres.

Strong assay results from Never Never continued to be delivered through to the end of 2023, with the company announcing on November 14 it had encountered a highlight intercept of 12.1 g/t gold over 11.1 metres, including 1,093 g/t over 0.28 metres. This was followed with further assays on December 12, including grading of 4.14 g/t gold over 20.9 meters including an interval of 20.2 g/t gold over 2.38 metres. It also provided an update on Four Pillars and West Wind, saying the targets were just starting to reveal their true identity and had the potential to add significant quantities to future mine plans.

The drill campaign at Never Never allowed Spartan to revise its mineral resource estimate for the site, and on December 14, Spartan announced updated indicated and inferred reserves for the Never Never deposit of 952,900 ounces of contained gold. This brings the total for Dalgaranga project to 1.7 million ounces of gold in indicated and inferred resources.

3. Ora Banda Mining (ASX:OBM)

Year-to-date gain: 166.67 percent; market cap: AU$418.16 million; current share price: AU$0.24

Ora Banda mining is a mid-tier gold producer operating out of the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia. In 2023, much of the company’s activity was focused on three assets: its Riverina-Mulline project, which it is targeting for production in 2025; its flagship Davyhurst project located 44 kilometres south of Riverina, which includes the Golden Eagle underground mine, Waihi open pit mine and a 1.2 million tonne per annum processing facility; and its Siberia project 37 kilometres southeast of Davyhurst, which includes the Missouri open pit mine and Sand King deposit.

Shares saw gains in the early part of the year following the February 10 release of Phase 1 drilling results from Riverina including a highlighted intersect of up to 74 g/t over 0.3 metres from the Murchison lode. These results were followed on February 16, with the company reporting mineral resource updates for Riverina with measured, indicated and inferred estimates of 303,000 ounces of gold underground and 141,000 in the open pit, with an additional proven and probable 73,000 ounces from underground mine reserves.

As for Davyhurst, on April 26, Ora Banda announced it made a lithium discovery, with intersects of 1.28 percent lithium oxide over 11 metres. The following day, the company reported in its quarterly activities report that it had deployed 50 percent of its open pit mining resources from its Missouri mine at Siberia to Riverina in January and February to establish an underground portal and allow early access, which meant lower mining and ore output from Missouri. Ora Banda’s share price remained range bound between AU$0.12 and AU$0.17 in Q2.

Despite strong financial results released in its July 25 quarterly report, shares declined through the July to September period, before getting support on September 19 when the company announced it completed the sale of its Lady Ida asset. Ora Banda saw the biggest gains of the year through the last quarter of 2023 starting with the release of its mineral resource estimate for Davyhurst on October 26, showing 1.83 million ounces of gold and a 50 percent increase of stockpiles on a year-on-year basis.

Its share price continued climbing when the company reported on October 30 that, with respect to its prior lithium discovery, it had signed a AU$26 million joint venture with Brenahan Exploration — a wholly owned company within Wesfarmer’s (ASX:WES) chemicals, energy and fertilisers division — in which Brenahan will own 65 percent of Davyhurst’s non-core mineral rights, excluding gold and by-products. The partner company can earn an additional 15 percent through spending AU$15 million on exploration, and Ora Banda would be free carried through a definitive feasibility study.

Ora Banda Managing Director Luke Creagh stated, “Although we have had encouraging early stage lithium results, Ora Banda is a gold focused company and given the underexplored nature and size of this belt, we expect it would take many years to do it justice for other minerals.”

This was quickly followed by news on November 2 that exploration at Ora Banda’s Sand King deposit provided strong assay results at greater depths than were tested by historical drilling, including a highlight intercept of 19.8 g/t gold over 8 metres. The company noted this opens the potential for the deposit to become an additional underground mine, and commenced diamond drilling at the site later that month.

The final news from its operations of 2023 came on November 28, when it announced key company milestones. In the report it indicated the first ore from Riverina underground was developed four weeks ahead of schedule and the first stoping was expected in March 2024, with steady production of 80,000 ounces per year to start in 2025.

4. Emerald Resources (ASX:EMR)

Year-to-date gain: 161.21 percent; market cap: AU$1.87 million; current share price: AU$3.03

Emerald Resources (ASX:EMR) is a mid-tier gold exploration and development company. Its core asset, the Okvau gold mine in Cambodia, hosts total measured, indicated and inferred reserves of 990,000 ounces. The company currently has a 76.5 percent stake in Bullseye Mining and has extended the date for a complete takeover to December 29. Its stake in Bullseye Mining gives it access to an additional three mining projects in Western Australia.

Shares of Emerald have followed a long-term upward trend, gaining 922 percent in the past five years. In 2023, the company enjoyed strong gains starting in January, when it announced a record quarterly gold production of 29,640 ounces from Okvau.

A higher gold price and improved output helped Emerald continue to perform. The company’s half-year report, released on March 16, showed that production at Okvau reached 52,857 ounces of gold during the period and Emerald generated AU$24.8 million after tax; its report for its full fiscal year ended June 30 showed that the asset produced 108,866 ounces, while the company saw a record after-tax profit of AU$66.2 million.

In addition to strong business reporting, Emerald’s share price has been supported by positive exploration news. Drilling at Okvau has focused on extending the main resource, with the company's latest program including seven drill holes across 2,764 metres. According to an update on October 30, two holes revealed new high-grade gold structures outside the current underground deposit, with one containing a highlight of 28.01 g/t gold over 2 meters.

In the same announcement, Emerald detailed recent news from exploration at its other projects. The company shared high-grade drill results from its Memot gold project, located 97 kilometres north of Okvau, which included results of up to 1 metre grading 67.4 g/t gold within 5 metres grading 15.36 g/t gold. Drilling at the site began in January 2022, and the company has been working towards defining a maiden resource for the project.

Emerald also shared highlights from the Bullseye-owned North Laverton gold project in Western Australia, which included high-grade intervals such as 3.68 g/t over 20 meters. Emerald said current and past results would be integrated into a prospectus for the project to be released in early 2024.

Emerald released its maiden resource estimate for Memot on December 21, which included an inferred resource estimate of 470,000 ounces of gold. The company also said it would be ramping up the second stage of their exploration efforts with a 50,000 metre drill programme commencing in early 2024.

In the company’s most recent production report on January 8, it said it had produced 29,184 ounces of gold at Okvau for the December 2023 quarter, putting it at the upper end of guidance. It also said it had sold 30,447 ounces of gold and increased its cash and bullion holdings to AU$137.8 million.

5. Besra Gold (ASX:BEZ)

Year-to-date gain: 159.62 percent; market cap: AU$58.53 million; current share price: AU$0.14

Besra Gold is a junior early stage gold mining company focused on the development of the Bau Goldfield in Sarawak, East Malaysia. The project consists of 36 prospects, covering 120 square kilometres and hosts multiple deposits boasting historic production that dates back to the 1800s. In its December 2013 feasibility study, Besra reported resources exceeding 3 million ounces of gold with the potential for a further 4.9 million to 9.3 million ounces of gold.

After trading around AU$0.04 to AU$0.05 for much of Q1, Besra’s share price saw significant gains early in the year following news on March 21, when the company reported it had secured up to US$300 million in funding. The funding package is made up of a gold pre-purchase and offtake non-binding drawdown term sheet with Quantum Metal Recovery, one of the largest gold distributors in Malaysia. Besra said it would use the funds to commence commercial-scale production at Bau within a period of 12 to 18 months.

Besra shares jumped from AU$0.22 to a yearly high of AU$0.455 following an announcement on May 9 that the US$300 million financing deal signed with Quantum would become a binding gold purchase agreement. The facility financing deal would be paid out over 30 months against future gold production.

The release also noted that with the project moving into the development stage, Besra’s CEO Dr. Ray Shaw would be stepping down to move into the role of chief operating officer to focus on in-country development and exploration activities.

Following that peak, shares trended downwards through to the end of the year but remained elevated with a 159.62 percent from the start of the year.

Quantum’s initial deposit of US$5 million was paid to Besra on July 26. Besra confirmed on September 20 that conditions for the facility funding had been satisfied and that Quantum would deposit US$10 million monthly beginning in October.

In its final 2023 update, Besra announced on December 22 that it produced its first gold concentrate from the Bau goldfield’s Jugan project site, which was required by December 31 per the agreement with Quantum. The gold was processed at a third-party facility that could mirror the planned Jugan pilot plant.

FAQs for ASX gold stocks

How to invest in gold on the ASX?

As Australia is a top gold-mining jurisdiction and the country's government is supportive of mining, there are plenty of options for investing in gold on the ASX. Between gold miners operating major projects and gold explorers hunting for the next significant gold discovery, investors can choose what kind of company matches their risk appetite and portfolio.

When looking for a gold company to invest in, be sure to do your due diligence and learn about the company's key characteristics, including its leadership team, its finances and the geology of its projects.

How to buy gold on the ASX?

Once you’ve selected a company or multiple companies to invest in, you can buy gold stocks using trading apps with access to ASX stocks, or you can get the help of a stock broker.

How to buy gold ETFs on the ASX?

For investors who prefer broader exposure to a sector, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are a good option, and the ASX is home to multiple gold-focused ETFs. Because they are traded on exchanges like stocks, you can buy ETFs using the same methods described above. ASX-listed gold ETFs to consider include:

  • ETFS Physical Gold (ASX:GOLD), which promises "low-cost access to physical gold via the stock exchange" and can be redeemed for physical gold.
  • Perth Mint Gold (ASX:PMGOLD), which tracks the international price of physical gold.
  • BetaShares Gold Bullion (ASX:QAU), which also tracks the physical bullion price.
  • The Van Eck Gold Miners ETF (ASX:GDX), which tracks the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (INDEXNYSEGIS:GDMNTR).

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Dean Belder, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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