Despite this year feeling like another tough one for many, it has delivered a number of discoveries.
"Discoveries are exciting because they come from nowhere," Widdup told the Resources Rising Stars Summer Series in Sydney this week.
"2019 has seen a number of discoveries come to market - some still have a question mark over them."
This year, discoveries have included Rio Tinto's Winu, Newcrest Mining/Greatland Gold's Havieron, Alkane Resources' Boda, Stavely Minerals' Thursday's Gossan and, if speculation is true, Legend Mining's Area D.
Widdup said the mining boom of the 1980s featured numerous discoveries, and only modest commodity price performance.
"To the extent that I think optimism around exploration was a very important driver of market sentiment," he said.
While Widdup noted discoveries were company-specific, the wave of optimism that can come from them is infectious, sparking nearology rushes and allowing juniors to raise money.
Off only one hole, Alkane's Boda hit has sparked a rush of companies to New South Wales' Lachlan Fold Belt.
The re-emergence of merger and acquisition - particularly in gold - is also exciting, according to Widdup.
"It's really, really important as a driver," he said.
"There is nothing tells the equity market ‘go buy some mining stocks' than when one miner buys another one. And when they start paying a premium it tells you that they might not be the only one with interest."
In the past two weeks alone, Saracen Mineral Holdings has paid $US750 million for half of the Super Pit, Evolution Mining acquired Red Lake for $A375 million, Kirkland Lake Gold announced the $C4.9 billion takeover of Detour Gold, and Zijin Mining overnight launched a $A1.4 billion takeover for Continental Gold.
"This is about dealing for scale," Widdup said.
"The companies in the market want to get bigger and they feel they'll get rewarded for it.
"This is the thing that's going to electrify the market because when companies are willing to buy things and they're paying a premium for them, the rest of the market will eventually catch on."
Widdup estimates the Lion Selection Mining Clock is between 8 o'clock and 9 o'clock.
"We're right before the turning point," he said.
"The merger and activity is large but it's not yet hostile and competitive."
Risk appetite is still yet to loosen up, which is preventing funds flowing through to juniors.
"We haven't seen the bull market in juniors, which means we've got many years to go."