Ariana Resources (LSE:AAU) said its operations in Turkey had not been affected by the spread of coronavirus on Wednesday. In its first-quarter figures, the company said that it has "implemented all necessary precautionary measures" at its Kiziltepe mine and "continued to operate without interruption during these trying conditions".

Meanwhile, managing director Dr. Kerim Sener said that the Turkish industry, and in turn Ariana, has not been impacted by restrictions on movement introduced by the Turkish government to limit the spread of Covid-19. "We wish the team and their families well during this time and look forward to maintaining production for the foreseeable future," he added.

Kiziltepe is part of Ariana's 50:50 Red Rabbit joint venture with Proccea Construction. It 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.

In Wednesday's release, Ariana announced gold production of 5,419 ounces ("oz") across the first quarter of 2020 at Kiziltepe.  This is 14% higher than the guidance it issued earlier.

The company also managed to post new record-breaking open pit ore mining numbers at 92,482 tonnes.  Meanwhile, the preliminary results also show silver production of 67,459oz.

Elsewhere, average head grade of gold to the Kiziltepe plant was 3.22 grams per tonne, with metallurgic recovery 0.3% higher than Q4 2019 at 92.5%. Finally, the mine has built up a stockpile of 130,000 tonnes of ore, which Ariana says is enough to cover eight months of mill feed.

Despite a 6.5% drop on Wednesday, Ariana's share price continues to sit its eight-year peak of 3.6p at 3.38p with a £38 million market cap.

The latest results at Kiziltepe come just weeks after Ariana announced receipt 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.

Author: Daniel Flynn

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