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Analysts say 2013 shapes as a make-or-break year for Sirius Resources, the market darling whose Nova discovery, north-east of Norseman, could be the start of a new nickel-copper province.

Sirius shares closed yesterday at $2.18, up from 5 cents in July when the Nova discovery was announced, although the Mark Creasy-backed explorer touched $3.28 in November.

Deloitte partner Michael McNulty called Sirius’ 2012 a “dream story come true”. Prominent corporate advisor Liam Twigger of PCF Capital Group described Sirius’ meteoric rise as “brilliant for the exploration sector”, which spent much of 2012 in the doldrums.

“Of the 748 listed mining and exploration companies on the ASX, 42 per cent, that’s about 340-odd, have less than $5 million cash in the bank,” Mr Twigger said.

“Fifteen per cent, that’s 150-odd, have got less than $1m cash.

“The market is in the worst state I’ve ever seen it in terms of cash levels and the lack of interest in equity risk."