Ariana Resources’ (LON: AAU) resource drilling results on Thursday for the Kiziltepe mine in Turkey not only confirmed the potential to extend the Arzu North pit, but also to add another year of mine life.

Resource drilling took place on the mine’s Arzu North area and confirmed more than 450 metres (“m”) of “potentially open-pittable extensions”, as well as the “significant opportunity” of expanding the vein system strike to 900m.

Kiziltepe is part of the Zenit Madencilik San. ve Tic joint venture (“JV”) with Ozaltin Holdings and Proccea Construction. It is 23.5% owned by Ariana.

The revised JORC target for Arzu North now includes a further 7,000 to 25,000 ounces of gold plus 150,000 to 520,000 ounces of silver.

This represents a more than 350% increase and the opportunity to add another year to Kiziltepe’s mine life, taking production through to 2026 at least. The JV is targeting an operational life of ten years.

Gold and silver have trended higher since its dip at the end of March, as investors grow more cautious and seek refuge in safe havens.

While there was some optimism of a return to normal with the vaccine at the start of 2021, this has trailed off amid continued outbreaks – including the deadly outbreak currently spreading through India.

This puts projects like Kiziltepe, with yet more strong silver and gold results, in a strong position. Ariana’s shares were up 1.6% on Thursday morning, and are up 15% since the end of March.

New significant intercepts from the drilling, which Araiana noted as “the most significant drilling programme”  at Kiziltepe so far, include 20 metres at 2.18 grams per ton (“g/t”) of gold and 55.2g/t silver.

The drill programme’s goal is to expand the open-pittable and potential underground resources of Kiziltepe, as well as testing a number of “significant exploration targets” in the area in a systematic way. So far, more than 8,000m of drilling has taken place, representing in excess of 50 diamond drill holes, and this is set to continue in the months ahead.

Ariana’s managing director, Kerim Sener, praised the “excellent set of results”. He said these confirmed the potential of extending the Arzu North open pit not only northwest but southeast as well.

Sener explained that, thanks to the “further additions to resources and reserves expected in the coming years” from Kiziltepe’s other vein systems, the operation is still comfortably on target for “a full decade of operational life”.

The managing director also pointed out the production year-to-date is “above target” and that “ample stockpiled material” is available for expanding the process plant. This expansion is still “on plan” to start from the second half of 2021. 

Author: Anna Farley

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