Ariana Resources (LSE:AAU) jumped 9% to 3.4p a share on Monday after pushing the life of its Kiziltepe gold mine out to 2026.
An updated JORC-compliant mineral resource estimate put the Turkey-based asset’s total undepleted gold at around 321,000 ounces. This represents a 25% jump on Ariana’s previous resource estimate in May 2017, and a 72% increase on the resource used in the Kiziltepe feasibility study.
Meanwhile, the latest work gave the project an in-situ (depleted) measured and indicated mineral resource of 2.01 million tonnes (“Mt”) at 2.51 grams per tonne (“g/t”) gold for 154,000 ounces, and an in-situ (depleted) inferred mineral resource of a further 1.01 Mt at 2.23 g/t gold for 73,000 ounces.
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.
Dr. Kerim Sener, Ariana’s managing director, said the upgraded resource estimates support at least another six years of Kiziltepe mine life. This is based on the assumption 60% of resources are converted to reserves, a conversion rate that has been achieved in the past, and a throughput rate of 200,000 tonnes per annum is maintained.
Moving forward, this mine life could be extended yet further through the conversion of any inferred gold resources and exploration targets to the measured and indicated resources or reserves categories. “We will continue to work on increasing the life of mine through additional open pit and potential underground extensions,” added Sener.
In this vein, the company also announced that it has launched into a new diamond drilling programme at Arzu South, an area of Kiziltepe.
“We are also pleased to report that we are just commencing a new diamond drilling programme, which has been designed to follow-up on the results of our recent exploration programme at Arzu South and which had targeted the potential for underground extensions to the current resource,” he said.
“As this programme is being conducted in the midst of a pandemic, safety of our personnel and that of our contractors comes first, and early termination of the programme is consequently possible. We will keep the market appraised of our progress, as appropriate."
Ariana announced receipt a watershed £1.6 million dividend from the Kiziltepe project last month. 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.
As at writing, these consistent updates have supported an 80% rise in Ariana's share price year-to-date with its market cap sitting at £32.85 million. If the company can continue to maintain the strong momentum of its newsflow, then we see no reason why this bull-run cannot continue.
Author: Daniel Flynn
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