Ariana Resources plc : 100% acquisition of Salinbas Gold Project

21 December 2016
AIM: AAU

100% ACQUISITION OF 1Moz SALINBAS GOLD PROJECT FROM ELDORADO

Ariana Resources plc ("Ariana" or "the Company"), the gold exploration and development company operating in Turkey, is pleased to announce the 100% acquisition of the Salinbas Gold Project* ("Salinbas" or "the Project") from Eldorado Gold (Netherlands) BV, a subsidiary of Eldorado Gold Corporation ("Eldorado Sub").  Salinbas had been part of a 49:51 Joint Venture ("JV") with Eldorado Sub since 2012 and previously with European Goldfields Limited from 2008 prior to their acquisition by Eldorado.

Highlights:

  • Salinbas Project is located within a multi-million ounce goldfield containing several significant gold-copper projects, notably the adjacent Hot Maden project.
     
  • Ariana 100% owner of Salinbas following a Net Smelter Return ("NSR") royalty of up to 2% on future production being granted to Eldorado Sub.
     
  • Company considering a focused work programme on Salinbas during 2017 to identify potential resource extensions and consider routes to commercialise the project.
     
  • Project area includes the Salinbas Au-Ag deposit, the Ardala Cu-Au-Mo porphyry and the Hizarliyayla Au-Ag system. 
     
  • Salinbas contains an approximately 10Mt Indicated and Inferred JORC resource, with an average grade of 2.0 g/t Au and 10.2 g/t Ag (for 650,000 oz gold and 3.2Moz of silver).
     
  • Scoping-study completed on Salinbas demonstrated potential for production of approximately 50,000 ounces of gold and 100,000 ounces of silver per annum over 10 years, providing an NPV(8%) in excess of US$100 million.
     
  • Ardala contains an approximately 16Mt Inferred JORC gold resource with a grade of 0.6 g/t Au (for 323,000 oz gold), also containing copper (up to 0.2%) and molybdenum (up to 0.01%) domains.

Dr. Kerim Sener, Managing Director, commented: 

"Completing this transaction with Eldorado on the Salinbas Project comes at a significant time in the evolution of the Company.  With the Kiziltepe Sector of the Red Rabbit Project due to enter production shortly, we are keen to enhance our project pipeline and to demonstrate a pathway to increased downstream production capacity.  The Salinbas Project represents a major opportunity for the future growth of Ariana, coming with approximately 1Moz in JORC Indicated and Inferred resources in its own right and in a region with significant exploration upside, as underscored by the recent discovery of the approximately 4Moz Hot Maden project just 16 kilometres to the south.

We look forward to providing further updates on the project and towards enhancing its value in what is proving to be a multi-million ounce goldfield and one of the most prospective areas for new gold exploration in Turkey."

Figure 1 which can be accessed from the link at the bottom of this announcement: Map of the Salinbas project area showing the location of major prospects, related alteration and mapped intrusions.  Most of the gold prospects, including Salinbas, lie within the Hot Gold Corridor.

This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of EU Regulation 596/2014.

Salinbas Project

The Salinbas Project is located in the Pontide Metallogenic Province in northeastern Turkey and lies approximately 80km southeast of the coastal city of Hopa and 20km east of Artvin. The project comprises three notable prospects: Salinbas, Ardala and Hizarliyayla.  The project comprises three licences which are owned 100% by the operating subsidiary, Pontid Madencilik San. ve Tic. Ltd.  Two of the licences are in process at the General Directorate of Mining Affairs for conversion to operational status. 

Salinbas is the most notable of the prospect areas, having been identified in 2009 following rock-chip sampling and trenching, which included 33m at 9.6 g/t Au and 46m at 8.3 g/t Au.  Follow-up drilling identified a gently dipping mineralised body emplaced along a thrust zone to the east of a series of breccia pipes and the main body of the Ardala Cu-Au-Mo porphyry.  The best intercepts in initial shallow drilling included 9.5m @ 6.48 g/t Au + 39.4 g/t Ag, 11.3m @ 4.98 g/t Au + 42.8 g/t Ag and 25m @ 3.34 g/t Au + 7.9 g/t Ag.  Best intercepts from further drilling included 31.10m @ 1.38g/t Au, 17.90m @ 2.09 g/t Au and 9.20m @ 2.25 g/t Au, with most mineralised intercepts obtained from less than 70m below surface.  A total of 11,709m drilling for 86 drill holes has been completed on Salinbas to date and has defined a tabular resource (Table 1) which dips towards the east at 25 degrees.  Substantial vertical relief exists between the top of the mineralisation at Salinbas Peak (1,320m above sea level) to the lower limits of the current resource (780m above sea level) in the vicinity of the Ardala porphyry.

Table 1:  Classified JORC Mineral Resource estimate for Salinbas (dated 1 April 2015). The resource was modelled on the basis of geology and a lower cut-off of 0.5 g/t Au.  Numbers may not sum due to rounding.

JORC Classification Tonnage (Mt) Grade Au (g/t) Grade Ag (g/t) Ounces Au Ounces Ag
Indicated 2.29 2.11 11.9 155,500 877,700
Inferred 7.67 2.00 9.7 493,300 2,396,400
TOTAL 9.96 2.03 10.2 648,900 3,274,200

Limited exploration drilling between Salinbas and the Ardala porphyry to the east has also been conducted.  Highly encouraging results from these holes confirmed the need for further exploration in this area and suggest the continuity of mineralisation from the Ardala porphyry in the valley floor to the Salinbas system on the ridge, representing a vertical distance of 675m and a horizontal distance of close to 2km.  The best recent intercepts from drilling in the area connecting the Salinbas system to the Ardala system include 81.5m @ 1.28 g/t Au + 10.5 g/t Ag, 34.5m @ 2.21 g/t Au + 10.7 g/t Ag and 18.2m @ 2.20 g/t Au + 25.6 g/t Ag.  Further establishing the links between these two areas will be an important objective for future drilling programmes.   

A scoping study focused on Salinbas and completed in 2015 (see announcement on 1 April 2015), demonstrated potential for the project to yield strong financial returns, with NPV (8%) at US$108M, pre-tax IRR of 28%, and payback secured within approximately 3.3 years over the Life of Mine ("LoM") at a gold price of US$1,250/oz.  This demonstrates that a potentially viable resource development opportunity already exists at Salinbas and that future exploration work will probably reinforce this view.

The nearby Ardala area hosts a porphyry copper-gold (plus molybdenum) mineralised system associated with a series of nested quartz-diorite intrusions of Eocene age within an Upper Cretaceous volcano-sedimentary sequence. Geological mapping, soil, rock-chip and drill sample data, and a ground magnetic survey outlined the mineralised porphyry and in 2013 a JORC Mineral Resource was established (Table 2).  Exposed parts of the porphyry have dimensions of 600 x 700m and interpretation of magnetic data suggests further lateral continuity beneath limestone units over an area of 1,000m x 1,000m in extent.  Previous exploration also focused specifically on the mineralised intrusions, while surrounding gold-bearing skarns (peak grade 5.16 g/t Au and 0.2% Cu in rock-chips) and related disseminated mineralisation in the host-rocks remain largely untested.  The best intercepts from recent drilling in the Ardala area include 119.5m @ 0.71g/t Au + 0.21% Cu + 0.01% Mo, 236.3m @ 0.34 g/t Au + 0.06% Cu and 122.9m @ 0.58 g/t Au + 0.05% Cu, which tested an area of mineralised porphyry and immediately adjacent limestone.  Deeper (>150m) high-grade intercepts outside of the porphyry at Ardala include 4.2m @ 6.74 g/t Au, 2.8m @ 3.34 g/t Au + 38.96 g/t Ag + 2.56% Zn, 2.0m @ 5.29 g/t Au + 13.5 g/t Ag, indicating the potential for other styles of higher grade mineralisation sitting adjacent to the porphyry. 

Table 2 : Classified JORC Mineral Resource estimate for Ardala (dated 13 April 2013).  Separate resource domains were established for the Au, Cu and Mo components of the Ardala porphyry.  There is a 95% coincidence of the Au and Cu domains, and a 40-50% coincidence of the Au and Mo domains.

           
JORC Classification Tonnage
(Mt)
Grade (ppm) Tonnes Metal Ounces Metal Element
 

Inferred

 
4.66 2,175 10,000   Cu
18.00 136 2,400   Mo
16.27 0.60   323,000 Au

Summary of Agreement

Ariana has acquired the 51% of Greater Pontides Exploration BV ("GPE") previously held by Eldorado Sub in exchange for a nominal cash consideration and a NSR royalty of up to 2% being granted to Eldorado Sub and resulting in Ariana holding 100% interest through its subsidiary Ariana Exploration and Development Limited.  Eldorado Sub has provided certain limited commercial warranties as part of the transaction.

The licences are held by Pontid Madencilik San. ve Tic. Ltd. ("Pontid"), a 100% owned subsidiary of GPE.  Ariana is acquiring Pontid with its management team intact and with US$40,000 in cash at bank, which will increase to US$60,000 on the related sale of certain fixtures and equipment to Eldorado.

Separate to the arrangement with Eldorado Sub, advance royalty payments of US$7,000 per annum will be made to the original owner of the Ardala licence for as long as Ariana holds the licence, in addition to which a 1.5% NSR will be payable in the event that the project enters production.  The Eldorado royalty on this licence will be 0.5% NSR, to ensure the maximum royalty paid on any licence in the project will be no more than 2% NSR. 

Greater Pontides Exploration BV ("GPE")

GPE was created in the Netherlands. This company, along with its wholly owned subsidiary - Pontid Madencilik San. ve Tic. Ltd., a private company incorporated in Turkey - was established originally with European Goldfields Limited as part of the agreement on the Artvin Project. European Goldfields Limited was acquired by Eldorado Gold Corporation in 2012. Prior to the acquisition as detailed above, Ariana Exploration and Development Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of the Ariana Group held 49% of the ordinary shares and Eldorado Gold Corporation, the other party to the agreement, held the remaining 51% of the ordinary shares. GPE was therefore treated in the Ariana Audited Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2015 as an Associate investment with a carrying value (together with GPE's subsidiaries) at that date of £nil.

The reported loss of GPE in its unaudited company financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2015, amounted to US$17,965 and as at that date it had total assets of US$8,727,148.

Contacts:

Ariana Resources plc Tel: +44 (0) 20 7407 3616
Michael de Villiers, Chairman  
Kerim Sener, Managing Director  
   
Beaumont Cornish Limited Tel: +44 (0) 20 7628 3396
Roland Cornish / Felicity Geidt  
   
Beaufort Securities Limited Tel: +44 (0) 20 7382 8300
Jon Belliss  
   
Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited Tel: +44 (0) 20 7886 2500
Adam James / Tom Salvesen  
   

Editors' Note:

About Ariana Resources

Ariana is an exploration and development company focused on epithermal gold-silver and porphyry copper-gold deposits in Turkey.  The Company is developing a portfolio of prospective licences originally selected on the basis of its in-house geological and remote-sensing database. 

The Company's flagship assets are its Kiziltepe and Tavsan gold projects which form the Red Rabbit Gold Project.  Both contain a series of prospects, within two prolific mineralised districts in the Western Anatolian Volcanic and Extensional (WAVE) Province in western Turkey.  This Province hosts the largest operating gold mines in Turkey and remains highly prospective for new porphyry and epithermal deposits.  These core projects, which are separated by a distance of 75km, form part of a 50:50 Joint Venture with Proccea Construction Co.  The Kiziltepe Sector of the Red Rabbit Project is fully-permitted and is currently in construction.  The total resource inventory at the Red Rabbit Project and wider project area stands at c. 525,000 ounces of gold equivalent. 

In north-eastern Turkey, Ariana owns 100% of the Salinbas Gold Project, comprising the Salinbas gold-silver deposit and the Ardala copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry among other prospects.  The total resource inventory of the Salinbas project area is c. 1 million ounces of gold equivalent.

Beaufort Securities Limited and Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited are joint brokers to the Company and Beaumont Cornish Limited is the Company's Nominated Adviser. 

For further information on Ariana you are invited to visit the Company's website at www.arianaresources.com.

Ends


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Source: Ariana Resources plc via Globenewswire

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