Ariana Resources plc (“Ariana” or “the Company”), the AIM-listed mineral exploration and development company with joint-venture gold mining operations in Europe, is pleased to announce its half-year 2021 production update for its joint venture Kiziltepe Mine (“Kiziltepe” or “the Project”). Kiziltepe is 23.5% owned by Ariana through its shareholding in Zenit Madencilik San. ve Tic. A.S.
· Gold production guidance for 2021 from Kiziltepe is maintained at c. 19,000 ounces of gold*; production during H1 2021 was 7,941 ounces of gold, c. 19% above forecast for the period.
· Average monthly mine production during H1 2021 was approximately 34,000 tonnes of ore and a stockpile of over 285,000 tonnes has been established, representing about 10 months of enhanced production capacity.
· Open-pit mining is continuing primarily at the Arzu North pit, with mining occurring concurrently at the Derya pit; 206,450 tonnes of ore have been mined from both pits to the end of June 2021.
· Process plant expansion to an operating capacity of a nominal 400,000 tonnes of ore per annum is already partially operational and nearing completion; ore throughput during 2021 is expected to be c. 325,000 tonnes, which represents a 115% increase over the feasibility plan.
· Plant expansion plan was funded through a capital loan of US$6.6 million (inclusive of interest) to Zenit through Turkiye Garanti Bankasi A.S., of which 33% has already been repaid, with eight equal quarterly payments remaining.
Dr. Kerim Sener, Managing Director, commented:
“The past six months have again provided production at Kiziltepe which exceeds forecasts, largely as a result of the higher-than-expected average grade that has been maintained through the processing plant. We are now looking forward to seeing the effect of the processing plant expansion, which is nearing completion, with process plant throughput already increasing during July. Once full-automation of the new system is established, around mid-August, we are expecting process throughput to increase to a nominal 400,000 tonnes of ore per annum, enabling us to maintain our guidance of circa 19,000 ounces of gold production for the year.
“The JV finances are in great shape, with repayments continuing against its working capital loan from Turkiye Finans Katilim Bankasi A.S., which is now over 90% complete, with a final repayment of US$0.8 million to be made in October 2021. Meanwhile the new loan facility from Turkiye Garanti Bankasi A.S., which provided the capital required for the plant expansion, is a third repaid.”
The information contained within this announcement is deemed by the Company to constitute inside information as stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulations (EU) No. 596/2014 as it forms part of UK Domestic Law by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (“UK MAR”).
* Silver production guidance is not provided, as silver is treated as a by-product credit. All figures are stated gross to the Project unless otherwise stated.
Summary of Project
The Kiziltepe gold-silver mine is expected to deliver an average of approximately 20,000 oz gold equivalent per annum over eight years of initial mine life, for a total of up to 160,000 oz gold equivalent based on current resources. The operating company, Zenit Madencilik San. ve Tic. A.S., is a JV between Ariana (23.5%), Proccea (23.5%) and Ozaltin (53%). Management control of the JV lies with Proccea. Commercial production was initiated at Kiziltepe during July 2017 and has continued without interruption to the present, with production consistently being delivered above plan.
The latest resource estimate for Kiziltepe was based on recent drilling and geological interpretation in April 2020. Detailed technical and economic assessments are underway on several satellite vein systems which are not currently in the mining plan, in anticipation of these being developed in future years. The Kiziltepe operation is currently targeting an increase in mine life and an enhanced processing rate of 400,000 tonnes of ore per annum, with operations currently expected to conclude during 2025. The joint venture is confident that an increase in mine life can be achieved following the success of recent exploration and assuming the conversion of existing resources to reserves.
Ariana Resources plc
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7407 3616
Michael de Villiers, Chairman
Kerim Sener, Managing Director
About Ariana Resources:
Ariana is an AIM-listed mineral exploration and development company with an exceptional track-record of creating value for its shareholders through its interests in active mining projects and investments in exploration companies. Its current interests include gold production in Turkey and copper-gold exploration and development projects in Cyprus and Kosovo.
The Company holds 23.5% interest in Zenit Madencilik San. ve Tic. A.S. a joint venture with Ozaltin Holding A.S. and Proccea Construction Co. in Turkey which contains a depleted total of c. 2.1 million ounces of gold and other metals (as at July 2020). The joint venture comprises the Kiziltepe Mine and the Tavsan and Salinbas projects.
The Kiziltepe Gold-Silver Mine is located in western Turkey and contains a depleted JORC Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resource of 227,000 ounces gold and 0.7 million ounces silver (as at April 2020). The mine has been in profitable production since 2017 and is expected to produce at a rate of c.20,000 ounces of gold per annum to at least the mid-2020s. A Net Smelter Return (“NSR”) royalty of 2.5% on production is being paid to Franco-Nevada Corporation.
The Tavsan Gold Project is located in western Turkey and contains a JORC Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resource of 253,000 ounces gold and 3.7 million ounces silver (as at June 2020). The project is being progressed through permitting and an Environmental Impact Assessment, with the intention of developing the site to become the second joint venture gold mining operation. A NSR royalty of up to 2% on future production is payable to Sandstorm Gold.
The Salinbas Gold Project is located in north-eastern Turkey and contains a JORC Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resource of 1.5 million ounces of gold (as at July 2020). It is located within the multi-million ounce Artvin Goldfield, which contains the “Hot Gold Corridor” comprising several significant gold-copper projects including the 4 million ounce Hot Maden project, which lies 16km to the south of Salinbas. A NSR royalty of up to 2% on future production is payable to Eldorado Gold Corporation.
Ariana is currently earning-in to 75% of Western Tethyan Resources Ltd (“WTR”), which operates across Eastern Europe and is based in Pristina, Republic of Kosovo. The company is targeting its exploration on major copper-gold deposits across the porphyry-epithermal transition.
Ariana is also earning-in to 50% of UK-registered Venus Minerals Ltd (“Venus”) and has to date earned into an entitlement to 37.5%. Venus is focused on the exploration and development of copper-gold assets in Cyprus which contain a combined JORC Inferred Resource of 9.5Mt @ 0.65% copper (excluding additional gold, silver and zinc).
Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited is broker to the Company and Beaumont Cornish Limited is the Company’s Nominated Adviser and Broker.
For further information on Ariana you are invited to visit the Company’s website at www.arianaresources.com.
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