Papillon's West African prospects turn out to be golden opportunities
Papillon Resources' share price has more than doubled this year and for many, it sums up just what's on offer in one of the hot spots for gold and mineral exploration in the world: West Africa.

Things started to take off last year when it made a discovery at its Fekola prospect in Mali showing multimillion ounce potential.

And potential is all it is at this stage. At $1.39, its market cap is $410 million, which is amazing because the company (ASX: PIR) hasn't even released a "resource" yet. It hasn't told the market the amount of gold it thinks it might be sitting on.

It's been a confluence of events that has propelled its share price since Radar first rated Papillon in April last year, when its shares were at only 43¢ and it had a market cap of $46 million.

First up, mining entrepreneur Ian Middlemas becoming a stakeholder and chairman brought in the "pied piper effect". He's an accountant who has been involved in some success stories like Mantra Resources.

The resignation of affable New Zealander Alan Campbell on March 1 as managing director was a surprise. What it means is anybody's guess.

What isn't in question are the positive announcements of fellow gold explorer Gryphon Minerals taking up a 6.72 per cent stake, which is a big vote of confidence, and most important, some drilling samples at Fekola have come up with a high presence of gold.

One fund manager thinks it is the most exciting prospect on his books, while another thinks it's the most expensive gold company around. We'll see.


If West Africa is a tempting prospect, Liberia is possibly the most exciting part of it. This country has come out of a major period of civil unrest with the likes of ex-president Charles Taylor and his cronies running amok.

These days, Taylor is on trial in The Hague, and Liberia's President is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. For many miners, the relative stability that she represents is an opportunity to explore ground that has been dormant for 30 years.

One of these is Tawana Resources (ASX: TAW), which at 3.6¢ has a market cap of $27 million. It is a hopeful with an edge over other gold diggers.

For one thing, it has gold exploration potential, according to one clued-in geologist, who mumbled it has "great geochemical anomalies".

What is more interesting is that it could have pegged a high-class iron ore body, which is 35 kilometres long, at the end of an old iron ore mine, and only 65 kilometres from a shipping port.

Giving this find quite a bit of substance is Tawana's managing director, Len Kolff. He was one of Rio Tinto's early exploration geologists at Simandou in Guinea - this has turned out to be one of the largest iron ore discoveries in history.

These are the kind of explorers you want to invest in.

Richard Hemming is an independent analyst who edits a fortnightly newsletter: www.undertheradarreport.com.au.


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