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Top 5 ASX Gold Stocks of 2023

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Here's a look at the top-performing gold stocks on the ASX by year-to-date gains.

The gold price has taken quite a ride this past year, facing significant peaks and valleys.

The yellow metal came close to making a new all-time high in May as the banking crisis in the US spooked investors, but then fell to yearly lows as the US Federal Reserve increased interest rates to the highest they’ve been since 2001. More recently, gold has moved back to higher levels, spurred upward by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

While physical gold is seen as a portfolio stabiliser, gold stocks can be appealing for those willing to take more risks.

But where should investors focus their attention? While there are many choices, the list below shows the ASX-listed gold companies that have seen the biggest share price gains year-to-date. All share price data was obtained on November 7, 2023, using TradingView's stock screener, and the stocks listed had market caps above AU$50 million at that time.

1. Spartan Resources

Year-to-date gain: 340 percent; market cap: AU$381.88 million; current share price: AU$0.44

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 mineralisation 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. Based on the success of the drill program, in July Spartan provided an upgraded mineral reserve estimate of 721,200 ounces of gold from Never Never and 1.18 million ounces for the overall Dalgaranga project.

On September 12, Spartan began a new 25,000 meter drill campaign at Dalgaranga. The plan is 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 will 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 is 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.

The company’s most recent news came on October 30, when it released an update on exploration efforts at its non-core Glenburgh and Egerton projects. Assays revealed near-surface deposits of 91.91 g/t gold over 4 metres from Egerton and 4.4 g/t gold over 12 metres from Glenburgh. Although they are outside of the core work taking place at Dalgaranga, Spartan said they add opportunities to its project portfolio.

2. Strickland Metals

Year-to-date gain: 300 percent; market cap: AU$280.29 million; current share price: AU$0.16

Strickland Metals (ASX:STK) is an exploration company that is focused on gold and copper. Its current operations include the Yandal East project in Western Australia, which hosts the Horse Well target. The company's previous operation in the area was the Millrose gold deposit, which it sold to Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST,OTC Pink:NESRF) on July 25 for AU$61 million. The company also owns the Bryah Basin gold and copper project in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, and the Iroquois zinc, lead and silver project in the Earaheedy Basin in Western Australia.

Shares of Strickland have soared since its September 19 announcement of a previously unidentified gold trend at Horse Well. The discovery, dubbed the Marwari trend, came as part of a 40,000 metre drill program that the company announced on August 10. The partial results included 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. In addition to the extension of Marwari, Strickland reported results from the Palomino prospect, 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 indicate the likely presence of an approximately 3 kilometre strike extension to the northwest that has not been drilled.

Continuing from its previous announcements, Strickland released news on October 2 that an additional discovery had been made at Horse Well, with intersects indicating high-grade, near-surface deposits across 200 metres along a 600 metre shear zone. The company noted that historic exploration of the site was oriented parallel to the structure and missed the target. It plans to continue drilling along the zone.

In its most recent update from Marwari, released on October 19, Strickland reported that it has used magnetic inversion modelling to help better define the deposit. This testing has extended the strike length to 700 metres, and has also outlined a substantial new target beneath the current drilling. The company commenced diamond drilling at Marwari October 27.

3. Westgold Resources

Year-to-date gain: 136.16 percent; market cap: AU$1 billion; current share price: AU$2.09

Westgold Resources (ASX:WGX) is a mid-tier gold-mining company with operations in Western Australia. Its Murchison assets are the Cue and Meekatharra gold operations, which include two processing hubs, as well as multiple operating and potential mines. Its Bryah operations include the Fortnum processing hub and the Starlight underground mine.

After hitting a five year low on December 11, 2022, shares of Westgold have steadily risen through 2023, peaking at AU$2.12 on November 5. The company's move higher started when it released results for its second fiscal quarter of 2023, reporting improved operating cash flow and saying it was tracking toward the top end of its guidance with 128,228 ounces produced in the first half of the year.

The company saw its most significant share price gains between March and May as the price of gold climbed to near record highs on the back of the US banking crisis. These gains were reinforced with news in March from Westgold's flagship mine, Big Bell, which is located at Cue. The firm said Big Bell was exceeding design outputs and had produced 16,342 ounces in January and February; meanwhile, exploration at the site revealed higher grades than were reported in Westgold's December quarterly report.

On March 27, the company reported that drilling at Cue's Great Fingall deposit showed mineralisation at 200 metres below the base of the original mine plan, with grades around 3.7 g/t gold. Continued drilling at the deposit into Q3 helped Westgold stay elevated despite gold beginning its retreat toward US$1,800. The company announced on May 31 that the resource estimate Great Fingall had increased to 588,000 ounces, providing higher confidence that future assays will provide continued high-grade results, both at the site and at the nearby but untested Golden Crown system.

The falling price of gold put downward pressure on Westgold's share price in September. However, the company bounced back in early October as the yellow metal rebounded and as it released results for its first fiscal quarter of 2024. The period saw a combined 63,104 ounces of gold produced between Westgold's assets.

Later that month, the company shared its annual report for its 2023 fiscal year. During the period, its Murchison assets produced a combined 203,382 ounces of gold, while the Bryah operations, supplemented with on-surface low-grade stock, produced 53,735 ounces. In the report, the company said decreased production was offset by the higher gold price, which helped improve cash flow and profitability through the second half of the year. Westgold also said it had begun to see results from new strategies that were implemented in 2022.

4. Emerald Resources

Year-to-date gain: 126.16 percent; market cap: AU$1.64 billion; current share price: AU$2.68

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 November 24. 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 771 percent in the past five years. This year, the company has enjoyed strong gains since January, when it announced record quarterly gold production of 29,640 ounces from Okvau.

A higher gold price and improved output have helped Emerald continue to perform. The company’s half-year report, released on March 16, shows that production at Okvau reached 52,857 ounces of gold during the period, while Emerald generated AU$24.8 million after tax; its report for the full year shows 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 reveal 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 details recent news from exploration at its other projects. The company shared high-grade drill results from its Memot gold project, which is located 97 kilometres north of Okvau, including 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; it expects to release it in late 2023.

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

5. Theta Gold Mines

Year-to-date gain: 113.24 percent; market cap: AU$98.71 million; current share price: AU$0.145

Theta Gold (ASX:TGM) is an Australian gold development and exploration company with operations focused on the Eastern Transvaal gold fields northeast of Johannesburg, South Africa. Its core project is 74 percent stake in the Transvaal Gold Mining Estate (TGME), South Africa’s first mining company; the minority 26 percent stake is owned by Black Economic Empowerment, which includes a group of local community and employee trusts along with a strategic partner. The TGME gold mine site hosts four planned mines.

Theta's share price began to trend upward during the first half of July following news the company was able to raise AU$5 million through a private placement with Hong Kong Huihua Investment Management. The company said the funding would be applied to permitting and an initial exploration program at TGME. The company announced on July 19 that operations had begun at the site following the commencement of a 3,000 tonne bulk sampling program that was to be delivered to the Barberton gold plant, owned by Pan African Resources (LSE:PAF,OTCQX:PAFRF).

Theta has continued to see share price momentum, achieving a year-to-date high of AU$0.15 on September 21. The increase came after the company announced that significant investor and shareholder 2Invest had exercised 5,000,000 unlisted options into fully paid ordinary shares. According to Theta, the funds raised will allow the company to advance the bulk sampling program at its Frankfort mine site.

In its 2023 annual report released on September 29, Theta said it expects the mine to produce 1.24 million ounces over a 12.9 year lifespan, with production to begin during the 2024 calendar year. The company also said it has received the necessary environmental and water use permits.

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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