A busy period for newsflow at Ariana Resources (LSE:AAU) continued on Thursday as the firm revealed that the latest round of work at one of its major satellite gold deposits in Turkey has completed. The business said rock-saw channel sampling has now finished at Kepez North, part of its 50:50 Red Rabbit joint venture ("JV") with Proccea Construction.

The work successfully met its objective of confirming and adding confidence to strong signs of gold mineralisation identified by previous work at Kepez. Among the strong intercepts encountered were 14.2 metres at 10.77 grams per tonne ("g/t") gold and 96 g/t silver and 10 metres at 11.54 g/t gold and 73 g/t silver.

Meanwhile, a scree sampling grid went beyond firming up old results, identifying a larger area of highly mineralised and broken material at the surface. Here, grab sample results included 36.37g/t gold and 247 g/t silver, 35/36 g/t gold and 200 g/t silver, and 27 g/t gold and 124 g/t silver.

Kepez is being developed as a high-grade satellite deposit for the Red Rabbit JV's Kiziltepe asset, which is currently in production. Kiziltepe currently spans four main pits and is expected to deliver an average of 20,000 ounces of gold equivalent per year over an initial eight-year mine life. However, Ariana believes that using the asset's facilities to process ore from additional deposits like Kepez can enhance these figures greatly.

For example, in Thursday's update, the company's managing director Dr. Kerim Sener said: "The in-situ grades and the widths of mineralisation reported add significant confidence to earlier work and will result in a more robust mineral resource estimate. We envisage this area being developed as a series of shallow open-pits producing ore which will be trucked approximately 14km to the Kiziltepe plant for processing."

Thursday's news comes just days after Ariana announced that it had received a watershed £1.6 million dividend from the Kiziltepe project. Likewise, earlier in March, the firm announced that 2020 gold production from Kiziltepe is expected to come in at around 18,000 ounces – nearly a third ahead of the project's feasibility plan for this stage of mine life. Meanwhile, ore throughput to the project's mill this year is expected to be c.205,000 tonnes – a 37% higher than estimated – while gold recovery is expected to exceed 90% at an average grade of 2.5 grams per tonne.

Elsewhere, this week also saw Ariana announce that a detailed assessment of its portfolio of Turkey-based gold assets has now completed with respect to a potential JV.  The explorer and developer said technical consultants to its proposed partner have completed an initial draft due diligence report covering its Kiziltepe, Tavsan, and Salinbas projects. A memorandum of understanding or the JV has now been extended to 30 April to enable the firm – currently identified only as a "major Turkish construction and engineering company" – to review the information.

Author: Daniel Flynn

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