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First exploration licenses granted at Project Leopard

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

Ariana Resources, the AIM-listed mineral exploration and development company with gold mining interests in Europe, is pleased to announce that its wholly-owned Turkish operating subsidiary, Galata Mineral Madencilik San. ve Tic. A.S. has been granted the exclusive exploration rights for three new licenses in Eastern Turkey as part of Project Leopard.


  • Three contiguous licences valid for seven years cover an area of 6000 hectares and are owned 100% by Ariana (Gulluce Project).
  • Dynamic exploration targeting multi-million ounce copper-gold deposits in Eastern Turkey, with further licence applications expected.
  • Project generation process augmented by the Newmont 2D Database; right-of-first-refusal plus 1% NSR payable to Newmont if a project enters production.

Dr. Kerim Sener, Managing Director, commented: "We are exceptionally pleased with the grant of these new licences following our application to the General Directorate of Mining and Petroleum Affairs in 2022. The grant follows a revised approval and licence-issuing process, which was successfully achieved by the Company on the first attempt. These licences also represent the first new licences secured in Turkey by the Company in over ten years and signify our pivot towards greenfield exploration in the country. The fact that several licences adjacent to ours were recently acquired in auction for c. £5 million bodes well for the potential of this area and simultaneously demonstrates the potential value of our ground. Over recent months, we have been identifying multiple prospective locations across eastern Turkey using our proprietary exploration datasets coupled with the use of the Newmont 2D Database under licence. This work has also involved extensive new satellite remote-sensing and geophysical data processing and interpretation which we are conducting in-house. We are now poised to make further applications for ground across the region in the future, with a view to initiating a major greenfields exploration effort targeting the discovery of significant new copper-gold deposits."

Project Leopard

The mineral potential of eastern Turkey offers significant opportunities for exploration and development of various minerals, particularly precious and base metals. The area is characterised by a complex geological history, involving the collision of the Arabian and Eurasian plates. Several major mineral deposits such as Çöpler (11.3 Moz Au), Hot Maden (4 Moz Au), Mollakara (3 Moz Au) and Salinbas (1.5Moz Au), among others have been discovered across this region during the past 25 years. The region hosts several important geological structures between the Pontides Belt and the Bitlis-Zagros suture zone, which contribute to the prospectivity of this metallogenic province. The region remains highly underexplored and little work has been completed in recent years in this part of the country.

Ariana is making particular use of the Newmont Two Decade ("2D") Database, announced on the 24th March 2022, as it was extended by all parties until March 2031. This grants Ariana and Galata a non-exclusive licence to the database. Ariana has granted Newmont a right-of-first-refusal plus 1% Net Smelter Return ("NSR") royalty if a project identified by the Company enters production.

The Company is advancing a strategy to secure 100% owned exploration projects in eastern Turkey with the input of the Project Leopard team, which will be further augmented for the upcoming field season. The exploration effort will focus on areas that have previously received only cursory prior exploration, primarily for logistical reasons. As such, many of the areas currently targeted are situated at significant altitude across the mountainous regions of eastern Turkey and are subject to a campaign-based and seasonally-driven exploration strategy.

The three exploration licences granted cover a total area of about 6,000 hectares which are located at the north of the Gulluce village, about 50 km northwest of Erzurum, eastern Turkey. The approval of the Company's application to the General Directorate of Mining and Petroleum Affairs for three adjacent mineral exploration licenses was made on the 7th March 2023 and the licences were certificated for a period of seven years from the 10th March 2023.

The Gulluce Project sits between the Pontide subduction zone and Izmir-Erzincan-Ankara suture zone which developed a north-easterly trending basin filled with Cretaceous –Paleogene volcanic and sedimentary rocks. This area hosts several copper-dominant base metal mineral deposits, including Maden-Bayburt, Otlukbeli-Erzincan and Oltu-Erzurum. The central part of the project area lies at an altitude of up to 2858 m above sea level.

The main lithological units are Cretaceous pelagic limestone, Palaeocene volcanic rocks and Upper Palaeocene – Eocene clastic and carbonate rocks. The Ariana exploration team has already conducted an initial assessment of the local geology and followed up on prior stream sediment sampling with rock chip sampling. This work has confirmed the historic exploration results and has identified several areas of geochemical anomalism.

In addition, five contiguous exploration licenses situated immediately to the northeast of the Gulluce Project were auctioned by the Mines Department recently. Four of these licenses have now been granted to the participating parties, following a payment of approximately £5 million to the Turkish Government. This demonstrates the significant exploration potential of the broader area.

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