Ariana Resources (LSE:AAU) jumped 8.5pc on Friday after revealing strong exploration and development progress across its assets in Turkey.

The business, which currently has a £20.4m market cap, revealed that it has now completed 746m of infill resource diamond-drilling at its 100pc-owned Kizilcukur project. The programme, which began in December, saw it drill 13 diamond drill holes to increase its understanding of the site’ Zeki pit.

The drilling work was also designed to increase Ariana’s confidence in the classification of Kizilcukur’s inferred and indicated resources. Currently, these stand at c.308,000ts at 2.11g/t gold and 73.4g/t silver, for 33,000oz of gold equivalent.

Now drilling has finished, Ariana has begun constructing a new 1.7km haul road at the project. This is being built to accommodate trucks that will move mineralised material from the Kizilcukur trial mining area to a road that connects to a processing plant at Kiziltepe.

Kiziltepe is one of Ariana’s flagship assets and, alongside the Tavsan gold project, forms part of its 50:50-owned Red Rabbit Gold Project joint venture with Proccea Construction. The total resource inventory at the Red Rabbit Project and wider project area stood at c.605,000oz of gold equivalent as at the end of 2017.

On Friday, Ariana also said it also expects to begin further trial mining and stockpiling at Kizilcukur in Q3 2019. Meanwhile, it added that the development of new infrastructure and infill drilling will supplement its internal feasibility study over the project.

Elsewhere in Friday’s update, Ariana said a 600m diamond drilling programme is due to begin shortly at Tavsan alongside the Zenit project team. This will focus on resource infill drilling for 355m within freehold land at the Tavsan North and Far North zones. Here, historic intercepts include drill hole ODX100, which encountered 14m at 1.23g/t gold, and hole ODX102A, which hit 7m at 1.06g/t gold.

Alongside this, Ariana and Zenit will conduct 245m of geotechnical drilling at Tavsan in April as part of an internal feasibility study. Finally, the business expects to carry out a further 1,300m of resource drilling and 1,600m of exploration drilling, once its recent application to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry have been approved.

Friday’s release also saw Ariana update investors on work at its Salinbas project. The asset comprises the Salinbas gold-silver deposit and the Ardala copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry in north-eastern Turkey/ among other prospects. The total resource inventory of the Salinbas project area is c.1MMoz of gold equivalent.

Here, the company is making final preparations for a 2,000m RC drilling programme, which is slated to begin in May once work at Tavsan has completed. A further 8,000m of drilling has also been planned in and around the Ardala porphyry and Salinbas zones. However, this work is dependent on the completion of forestry permitting - a process that is now drawing to a successful close. 

Ariana’s managing director Kerim Sener said the firm was ‘very pleased’ with its current pace of progress, adding: ‘Our field team is currently active across all of our sites simultaneously; the highest level of exploration and development activity undertaken in the history of the Company. In western Turkey, project development work is continuing at the Kizilcukur, Ivrindi and Tavsan sites which are located in close proximity to our flagship Kiziltepe gold mine. 

‘Furthermore, additional resource-focused work is being directed towards extending the life of mine at Kiziltepe. In eastern Turkey, work at Salinbas, our large gold and base-metal deposit with over 1Moz of gold already defined, has started early in the field season in order to ensure we are in a position to commence a 2,000m RC drilling programme during May 2019.’

Author: Daniel Flynn

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