Ariana Resources (LSE:AAU) jumped 6.7pc to 1.6p today after announcing ‘imminent’ drilling at its Kizilcukur project in Turkey. A 1,000m diamond drilling programme aims to upgrade existing JORC resources to the measured and indicated categories.

The work will take place in Kizilcukur’s planned ‘Zeki Pit’ area. Zeki will be the largest and highest grade of three pits defined by a JORC resource estimate in 2016. Trial mining began in the area last year, with more planned for 2019.

Kerim Sener, managing director at Ariana, said drilling could define a high-grade zone amenable to open-pit mining. He added: ‘Previous scoping-level work on the project outlined this open-pit potential and the new drilling is designed to improve confidence in the Mineral Resource as part of our internal feasibility study.  We are looking to advance Kizilcukur to the point of a decision to mine during 2019, following which various options for the further development of the project will be considered.’

Kizilcukur consists of one operational licence in Western Turkey’s Balikesir Province. It is located 22km northeast of Ariana’s Kiziltepe gold mine. The project contains indicated and inferred resource of c.308,000 tonnes at 2.11g/t gold and 73.4g/t silver. It also offers potential upside through further drilling.

Ariana is developing it to truck and process ore at Kiziltepe in the future. In today’s update, the firm said it has now determined an optimal trucking route to the plant at Kiziltepe. It will reflect these costs in its internal feasibility study for the project.

Kiziltepe is part of Ariana’s 50pc-owned Red Rabbit joint venture with Proccea Construction. The JV also includes the Tavsan gold project. Red Rabbit hosts several prospects in the Western Anatolian Volcanic and Extensional province. This area hosts the most significant operating gold mines in Turkey and is prospective for new porphyry and epithermal deposits. Red Rabbit's total resource inventory stands at around 605,000 ounces of gold equivalent.

Alongside Red Rabbit, Ariana owns the Salinbas Gold project in north-eastern Turkey. Salinbas comprises the Salinbas gold-silver deposit and the Ardala copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry. The total resource inventory of the Salinbas project area is c. 1 million ounces of gold equivalent.

Author: Daniel Flynn

Disclosure: The author does not own shares in the company mentioned in this article