Ariana Resources (LSE:AAU) sat at 1.77p on Tuesday after revealing that it may have found a way to extend the life of its Kiziltepe mine in Turkey. The business said infill resource drilling has demonstrated the potential for a large-tonnage, lower-grade system at the Arzu North area of Kiziltepe – which is part of Ariana’s 50:50 Red Rabbit JV with Proccea Construction.

Drilling completed at the site in December to provide Red Rabbit with additional infill resource data encountered encouraging intersections. Highlights included 44m at 1.5g/t gold and 17.5g/t silver and 27.7m at 1.37g/t gold and 13.1g/t silver.

The drilling was planned to test the theory that the Arzu North vein system – which had not been tested thoroughly – broadens out into a more extensive array of vein mineralisation spanning a series of structures. According to Ariana, Tuesday’s results confirm the presence of at least three broad mineralised structures within the Arzu North pit.

New geological modelling and pit optimisation studies are now underway to revise the resources for Arzu North alongside another area called Derya. Ariana said it is also looking at the potential of merging Arzu North and Derya into a single pit following re-interpretation of the Aybor vein, located in a 30m-wide zone between the two areas. Regardless, mining is scheduled to begin at both areas simultaneously in the final quarter of this year now that the Red Rabbit partners have received all necessary forestry permissions.

Ariana’s managing director Kerim Sener said the results suggest that there is potential in the Arzu North area to identify a large-tonnage and lower-grade resource that could extend Kiziltepe life of mine.

‘We are investigating opportunities with our JV team to assess this potential further through future drilling programmes and look forward to commencing mining in these fully permitted areas later this year,’ he added. ‘From the results of this work, we can conclude that the Arzu North vein system broadens out into a series of sub-parallel mineralised structures hosted within a halo of mineralised and altered volcanic rocks. This is apparent from the wide zones (>20m) gold and silver mineralisation encountered particularly towards the NW end of Arzu North.’

Kiziltepe, which is fully-permitted and is currently in production, is accompanied by another gold project called Tavsan in the Red Rabbit JV. Both sites contain a series of prospects within two prolific mineralised districts in the Western Anatolian Volcanic and Extensional Province of western Turkey. This province hosts the largest operating gold mines in Turkey and remains highly prospective for new porphyry and epithermal deposits. The total resource inventory of the Red Rabbit Project and wider project area stands at c.605,000oz of gold equivalent.

Last month, Ariana revealed that gold production at Kiziltepe for Q1 2019 was 7,296 ounces, exceeding average annualised quarterly guidance by 17pc in spite of wet weather. This figure was also 67pc higher than in the same period in 2018. Meanwhile, the average metallurgical plant recovery of gold for the quarter remained high at 93.7pc.

Beyond Red Rabbit, Ariana also owns 100pc of the Salinbas Gold Project in north-eastern Turkey, which has a total resource inventory of c.1MMoz of gold equivalent.

Author: Daniel Flynn

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