Ariana Resources plc, the gold exploration and development company focused on Turkey, is pleased to announce that it has signed definitive documentation governing a Joint Venture with European Goldfields. The venture will become effective when transfer of Ariana's properties, currently in progress, is confirmed by the General Directorate of Mining Affairs in Turkey. The JV involves the development of Ariana's properties in north-eastern Turkey, which include the Ardala copper-gold porphyry and fifteen other licences covering a total area of 229km2.
The venture is focused on the Greater Pontides region of Turkey, a highly prospective geological terrain containing several major deposits.
The JV will focus initially on the Ardala copper-gold porphyry project, which has shown encouraging grades of copper and gold in previous exploration. It has a 600m x 700m surface exposure centred on a magnetic high of 1,000m x 1,000m extent. Copper-gold mineralisation has also been identified on other properties in the vicinity of Ardala within granitoids and in the surrounding country rocks.
European Goldfields will own 51% of the JV company into which Ariana will transfer the relevant properties. European Goldfields is funding all development costs of these initial properties and any future properties located within the AOI until the delivery of the first Definitive Feasibility Study ("DFS"), at which time European Goldfields' interest in each relevant project will increase to 80% on current licences in the JV or 90% on new areas generated by the JV.
A period of joint funding after DFS has been agreed, but if at any time during this period Ariana is diluted to below 5% it will adopt a 1.5% Net Smelter Return ("NSR") on the project in question. Any project that falls short of a 0.5Moz Au (or equivalent) threshold will be assigned back to Ariana, in which case European Goldfields will adopt a 1.5% NSR.
Ariana has also granted European Goldfields a right of first opportunity over projects located in Turkey but outside of the AOI, on terms that will be independent of the JV agreement. This right will not apply within the WAVE Project Area in western Turkey, as Ariana intends to develop projects within this area independently.
Subject to completion of the JV arrangements, European Goldfields will subscribe for new shares in Ariana at 5 pence per share in a private placement for a total cash consideration of approximately 900,000, resulting in European Goldfields owning 20% of Ariana. As part of this subscription, European Goldfields has agreed certain rights to maintain its interest at the 20% level.
In addition, David John Richard Reading, 52, Chief Executive Officer of European Goldfields, will be appointed to the Board of Ariana as a non-executive director, with effect on completion. There are no other matters under paragraph (g) of Schedule 2 of the AIM Rules for Companies to be disclosed.
Dr. Kerim Sener, Managing Director, commented:
"The start of our Joint Venture and Strategic Partnership with European Goldfields in Turkey marks a significant milestone in the development of the Company. The combination of our in-country knowledge and skills, with the financial and technical strength of European Goldfields, is a win-win. As partners, Ariana and European Goldfields are ideally matched as we share a common philosophy and sense of purpose.
"We are delighted to welcome David Reading, CEO of European Goldfields, to the board of Ariana as a non-executive director. He brings with him a new layer of operational expertise and corporate skills that will be invaluable as Ariana develops its projects in western Turkey.
"The acquisition of 20% of the Company by European Goldfields, at a price premium to market, must be recognised as a sign of great confidence. With this funding secured, the next stages of our progress at Kiziltepe and Tavsan will be marked by an increase in tempo towards project development."
David Reading, Chief Executive Officer of European Goldfields, commented:
"We are delighted to enter into partnership with Ariana and see this as an exciting and relatively low risk entry into the highly prospective geological terrains of Eastern Turkey. Ariana's local skill and knowledge and its proven track record within Turkey can allow exploration work to start almost immediately on the current licence portfolio including the promising Ardala target. European's entry into Turkey is part of our focused growth strategy of expanding into the mineral belts of South East Europe."