2 December 2019
COPPER-GOLD PROJECTS EARN-IN
Ariana to Acquire up to 50% of Venus Minerals Ltd
Ariana Resources plc ("Ariana" or "the Company"), the AIM-listed exploration and development company, is pleased to announce its acquisition, through an earn-in agreement, of up to 50% of UK-registered Venus Minerals Ltd ("Venus"). Venus is focused on the exploration and development of copper and gold assets in Cyprus. The acquisition develops Ariana's strategy to create a portfolio of interests in the Eastern European region, and across the Company's broad target area of the Tethyan Metallogenic Belt. Ariana also recognises the significance of copper as the most important technology-metal required for the global green-energy transition.
· Ariana to acquire up to 50% of Venus through an earn-in agreement, having already acquired rights to 6% on prior expenditure of 0.6M Euro and commitment of up to a further 2.4M Euro over the next three years.
· The Magellan Project contains a total historical resource of c. 9.5Mt @ 0.6% Cu (gross and not JORC 2012 compliant), where best copper-gold intercepts from drilling include:
o 53m @ 2.05% Cu, 64m @ 0.97% Cu, 85m @ 0.68% Cu at the Kokkinoyia site.
o 36m @ 2.58% Cu, 50m @ 1.65% Cu, 47m @ 1.63% Cu and 48m @ 1.15 g/t Au, 36m @ 0.60 g/t Au and 8m @ 1.72 g/t Au at the Klirou site.
· Open-pit optimisations and metallurgical data for the Magellan Project demonstrate potential for economic extraction; recoveries of up to 75% for copper and 79% for zinc demonstrated from samples.
· Resources are open in several directions and particularly down-plunge and show significant potential for the identification of gold-rich zones overlooked by previous exploration.
· Highly prospective exploration ground held under licence, containing a pipeline of prospects ranging from drill-ready targets to exciting new copper-in-soil discoveries.
· Venus has a long-standing in-country track record and relationships, plus an invaluable and exclusive database covering nearly all previous work across Cyprus.
Important Note: The resource figures quoted above and in the text below are not reported in accordance with an AIM Standard under the AIM Rules and should therefore not be relied upon by investors pending the upgrade to JORC 2012 reporting which Venus is intending to undertake and report to the Market as soon as practicable.
Dr. Kerim Sener, Managing Director of Ariana Resources, commented:
"We are exceptionally pleased to expand our interests within the Tethyan Metallogenic Belt and to do so in the operationally-friendly jurisdiction of Cyprus represents the fulfilment of a well elucidated long-term diversification strategy of the Company. Cyprus holds a global reputation for high-quality copper deposits, which tend to occur in distinct clusters; many of which remain significantly underexplored. We are also pleased to be working alongside a first-rate in-country team, committed to the development of the Cypriot mining industry, including Dr. Nicos Adamides, Exploration Manager, who has over 40 years' experience working on Cypriot copper exploration and production.
"Ariana is making full use of its regional exploration and development expertise. After two years of careful due diligence and relationship building in Cyprus, Ariana is committed to the successful development of Venus Minerals. We are also taking advantage of our geographic proximity to get maximum cost-time benefit from our existing team and infrastructure. In Venus, we now what we believe to be an exceptional investment opportunity which we look forward to supporting for the benefit of all stakeholders."
Peter van der Borgh, Managing Director of Venus Minerals Ltd, commented:
"Venus Minerals is focused on the exploration and development of copper and gold on the island of Cyprus and, with Ariana's input, we will be able to scale-up our activities significantly. Cyprus represents an environment in which exciting exploration opportunities were effectively frozen-in-time since the early 1970s. This creates a significant opportunity; one which our combined Cypriot and international team is fully capable of unlocking. To our unique advantage, Venus holds a proprietary exploration database containing records of nearly all prior exploration across the island. We have already put this to good effect in securing a range of stand-out projects in the most prospective regions of the island."
This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of EU Regulation 596/2014.
About Venus Minerals Ltd
Venus Minerals Ltd ("Venus") is a UK registered, Cyprus domiciled company holding a significant exploration and development portfolio in Cyprus. Two advanced copper-gold-zinc prospects at Klirou and Kokkinoyia contain historical resources of 4.3Mt @ 0.5% Cu, 0.8% Zn + unquantified Au (JORC 2004) and 5.2Mt @ 0.7% Cu + unquantified Au (non-JORC) respectively, providing the company with an exceptional foundation on which to build its resource base. Scoping and pit-optimisation studies for the projects have been completed and are under review towards the preparation of a combined Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA"). It is the intention of Venus to develop these prospects as a single entity known as the "Magellan Project" with the aim of establishing a significant new mining operation on Cyprus. The company recognises the potential to confirm and grow these resources through further drilling. The company also holds a substantial exploration portfolio outside of the main project areas, which contain several immediate drill targets which have been established following a rigorous data review and new surface exploration.
Further information about Venus Minerals and its projects is available on the Company's website, www.venusminerals.co.
Venus Minerals has been established with a highly-experienced board comprising the following individuals:
Peter van der Borgh: Managing Director
Peter is a corporate geologist who has been instrumental in the discovery and development of greenfields and brownfields gold and base metals deposits in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. As Technical Director of ASX-listed African and South American focused uranium and specialty metals company Globe Uranium, he was involved in the discovery of the major Kanyika niobium deposit in Malawi. In 2006, Peter formed and listed ASX gold company Cortona Resources, where as Managing Director he oversaw the development of the Dargues Gold Mine in NSW, securing the first gold mining permit in the State for more than ten years, before completing a successful merger in 2013; the mine is currently under construction. More recently, Peter was Managing Director of ASX-listed European-focused base-metals company Zinc of Ireland, during which time a maiden JORC resource was published at the Kildare Zinc Project, and several significant discoveries were made. Peter has overseen successful capital raisings totalling more than A$40 million, and a development financing with an international bank for more than A$40 million. Peter is passionate about exploration and mining, and the roles that safe practice and technological advancement play in safeguarding the workforce and environment to deliver the highest levels of efficiency and sustainability.
Harry Anagnostaras-Adams: Non-Executive Chairman
Harry founded Cyprus-based Semarang Enterprises Ltd, Atalaya Mining Limited and KEFI Minerals plc between 2004 and 2006. Prior to that he lived in Australia and had co-founded Citicorp Capital Investors Australia Limited, Pilatus Capital Limited and the Australian Gold Council. He has overseen a number of start-ups principally through the roles of Chairman, Deputy Chairman or Managing Director. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant while working with PricewaterhouseCoopers and has a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and the Institute of Company Directors. He has been a resident of Cyprus since 2004 and, during that time, has supported the introduction of modern minerals exploration and industrial developments in accordance with best international industry practice and standards for environmental, social and technical performance, involving investments exceeding 500 million Euro in Spain, Ethiopia and Cyprus.
Dr. Kerim Sener: Non-Executive Director
After working in gold exploration and mining in Zimbabwe, Kerim completed a PhD at the University of Western Australia in 2004 and worked on a variety of projects in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. He co-founded AIM-listed Ariana Resources, a Turkish focused gold company, and has been responsible for the discovery of over 3.8Moz of gold in eastern Europe and involved in the development of the Kiziltepe Gold Mine in western Turkey. Kerim is also Non-Executive Chairman of NEX-listed Panther Metals plc, a gold exploration company focused on Canada and Australia. In addition, he is an Adjunct Research Associate at the Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia.
Mark Rachovides: Non-Executive Director
Mark Rachovides is President of Euromines, the recognised representative of the European metals and minerals mining industry. The association's main objective is to promote the industry and its relations with European institutions at all levels. He is also a Consultant to Dundee Precious Metals and a board member of three other natural resource companies. He has held numerous board positions in natural resources companies active in Europe and elsewhere over the last twenty years. He was formerly an Executive Director of European Goldfields which was acquired by Eldorado in early 2012. Previously he was Vice President, Europe at Dundee Resources Limited after spending 11 years at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) He has been involved in a wide variety of projects in the Former Soviet Union, Southern and Eastern Europe and holds an MA from Oxford University.
Venus holds 10.8km2 under licence for the component parts of the Magellan Project comprising Klirou and Kokkinoyia. Venus intends to define an economic open-pittable or underground resource of >10Mt. The project is being developed with a hub and spoke approach, with its operational base located within the Mitsero Processing Centre ("MPC"). Venus is in discussions to lease other parts of the MPC with the aim of establishing a new processing plant, which may involve use of some of the existing processing plant infrastructure available on the site. The MPC was established in 1955 and operated successfully for thirty years. An evaluation of the remaining infrastructure is underway to determine what parts of the old plant site can be repurposed for future use. Of particular significance are the areas designated as tailings dams.
Klirou is a virgin discovery and represents a completely intact resource with substantial upside. The deposit was previously assessed, like most deposits in Cyprus, as a copper-zinc orebody. However, drilling undertaken by EMED Mining in the mid-2000s demonstrated that the orebody contained substantial gold, and this is expected to add significantly to the economics of the project.
Furthermore, the recent application of modern geoscientific techniques has resulted in a better understanding of the nature and controls on mineralisation at Klirou. These have highlighted considerable exploration upside including continuations to the existing mineralised zones, and exciting new targets adjacent to the resource and further afield within the licence area. Mineralisation identified to date extends from surface to c. 150m below surface, while the location and terrane are ideal for the establishment of a mining operation in the future.
The following intercepts demonstrate the copper potential of the Klirou orebody:
EMR20: 36m @ 2.58% Cu
HKL54: 50m @ 1.65% Cu
HKL80: 47m @ 1.63% Cu
The following intercepts demonstrate the gold potential of the Klirou orebody:
EMR19: 48m @ 1.15 g/t Au
EMR20: 36m @ 0.60 g/t Au
EMR34: 8m @ 1.72 g/t Au
Discreet high-grade pods of massive sulphide were mined at Kokkinoyia in the 1970s. Subsequent drilling highlighted broader zones of mineralisation and a small pit was started. However, these activities were curtailed soon afterwards due to supressed copper prices, and much of the mineralisation remains intact.
Historical production records demonstrate average recovery of gold to copper concentrates of 5.0 g/t Au despite no record of gold having been assayed from the drill core. Check sampling by Venus demonstrates significant gold in composite waste dump samples with an average grade of 0.8 g/t Au in the waste material. In the absence of drilling assay data for gold, this suggests that this grade may be considered as the minimum gold grade of the remaining resource, with the potential to boost the project economics.
Furthermore, examination of historical drill logs indicates that many holes were terminated in mineralisation, often due to caving of the hole walls, a common problem with the open-hole drilling techniques used at the time. It is the company's understanding that there remains significant potential to extend the known mineralisation at depth and down plunge.
The following intercepts demonstrate the copper potential for the remaining Kokkinoyia orebody:
M203: 53m @ 2.05% Cu
M200: 64m @ 0.97% Cu
M35: 85m @ 0.68% Cu
As first mover in the re-emergence of Cyprus' long and esteemed mining history, Venus has, over a number of years, positioned itself to deliver growth on many fronts. Venus holds 28.0km2 under granted licences and a further 36.4km2 as licence applications.
The Mariner Project is located in one of the few lowland areas away from the Troodos mountains, where the limestone cover units have been eroded to reveal the ancient oceanic basalts beneath. Venus has recently acquired two licences near Avdellero and Troulli which make up the Mariner Project. During the 2019 field season Venus analysed more than 2,000 soil samples and mapped more than 10km2, identifying several encouraging copper-zinc anomalies in the process. One prospect contains multiple soil anomalies >0.1% Cu associated with a broad zone of alteration and represents a highly significant discovery. To the southwest, mapping and geochemistry have confirmed mineralised structures and associated copper-zinc soil anomalies extending along several kilometres of strike. These indications are very encouraging and follow-up work is planned to better define the geological setting and nature of copper-zinc mineralisation.
The West Skouriotissa project is of considerable interest as the site of a promising aeromagnetic anomaly in the vicinity of several of Cyprus' largest mines, including the operational Skouriotissa Mine (6Mt @ 2.2% Cu) and historical Mavrovouni (16Mt @ 4.5% Cu) and Apliki (1.8Mt @ 2.2% Cu) mines. A well-defined corridor of low magnetic intensity suggests an axial structure which is oriented in a northwesterly direction, terminating at the site of the Mavrovouni deposit. Geological mapping within the licence area identified copper staining along a structure interpreted as a growth fault. Drilling in the downthrown side of this structure intersected intervals of sericitic alteration and clear hydrothermal calcite and entered disseminated sulphide mineralisation at 210m which continued with increasing intensity to the final depth of 250m. The licence for West Skouriotissa was granted in September 2019 and this stand out target has yet to be followed up.
At North Alestos, field validation of magnetic anomalies identified disseminated cupriferous mineralisation associated with chloritic alteration in the Upper Pillow Lavas. The mineralisation is spatially associated with an extensive region of low magnetic intensity which continues north of the area of identified alteration. A number of drill-holes in this area intersected copper- and zinc-rich mineralisation. Best independent intersections were 50m @ 0.5% Cu, with the hole terminated in mineralisation assaying 0.75% Cu, and 50m @ 0.5% Zn. A 3D Induced Polarisation survey indicated that the mineralisation is associated with zones of increased chargeability, which are open in a south-easterly direction. The northern extensions of the aeromagnetic anomaly are located at the intersection between north-westerly and northerly lineaments, an area which has been identified by Venus as a significant structurally controlled target beneath the cover of sedimentary units and lavas.
The Ayia Marina Project hosts a sizeable ancient slag heap, the source of which has not been identified. There are widespread signs of mineralisation which are associated with an array of structures that disrupt the geology and commonly form the contact between Upper and Lower pillow lavas. Of interest are intersections between northwest trending structures and a major northeast trending regional fault that could potentially create a locus for ore deposition. Copper mineralisation was identified in historical drilling at the Vasilis prospect in the southern part of the project. Geochemical sampling has been carried out in order to identify the extents of the anomalous ground and the results are under evaluation.
The West Nikitari prospect is located at the contact between the pillow lavas and sedimentary rocks. The latter comprise basal umber overlain by calcareous sediments, including reef limestone and gypsum. In the vicinity of the prospect, the pillow lavas are locally hydrothermally altered with pyrite cubes in a chloritic matrix. All of the aforementioned features are known to be associated with VMS deposits. Detailed helicopter magnetic data display a well-defined magnetic low located at the intersection between interpreted aeromagnetic structures. North of the prospect, at East Koutrafa, historical exploration by the Geological Survey Department has identified the presence of copper- and zinc-rich sulphide mineralisation, whose extents have not yet been outlined.
Background to Acquisition
Ariana has conducted over two-years of due diligence on the projects held by Venus Minerals (Cyprus) Ltd ("Venus Cyprus") during an option period, which commenced in October 2017. Venus Cyprus is 100% held by Semarang Enterprises Limited ("Semarang"), though Semarang commits to transferring 100% of its rights to Venus, such that the latter will initially become a 100% owner of Venus Cyprus. Ariana and Semarang have resolved to enable Ariana's formal earn-in on Venus as a new entity established to house their shareholding in Venus Cyprus. Ariana provided to Semarang notice of exercise the of the option and has formally triggered the earn-in process for the acquisition of shares in Venus on the 29 November 2019 ("the earn-in commencement date"). As at the earn-in commencement date, Ariana has earned an entitlement to 6% of Venus, with a commitment to acquire a further 5% through the provision of 0.5M Euro in funding during the first year of operations between December 2019 and December 2020. On realisation of its full financial commitment to the first year of operations, Ariana will have acquired approximately 11% of Venus.
In the event that Ariana funds an additional 1.9M Euro between October 2020 and October 2022, it will have acquired 50% of Venus as an equal partner with Semarang, assuming no additional third-party funding is introduced to Venus within this timeframe. For clarity, Ariana must provide 3M Euro in total funding (inclusive of 0.6M Euro committed up to the earn-in commencement date) to Venus in order for its shareholding to become equal to that of Semarang. Funding of Venus in the interim is expected to be satisfied entirely from the internal funding capability of Ariana, with a minimum annual funding commitment during this time of 0.5M Euro.
The island of Cyprus has been known since ancient times as being a major source of copper and has been an important trade hub from the Bronze Age onwards. Even our name for copper derives from Classical Latin aes Cyprium (metal of Cyprus), which was later shortened to Cuprum. Bronze Age Mycenaean shipwrecks discovered off the southern coast of Turkey were weighed down by large consignments of Cypriot copper. Due to its strategic importance through the ages, the island has become a melting-pot of different cultures but is today dominated by Greek, Turkish and English cultural influences. As languages, Greek, Turkish and English are understood widely throughout the island.
The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the EU despite being de facto partitioned into two main parts: the area under the effective control of the Republic, located in the south and west, and comprising about 59% of the island's area; and the north, administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 36% of the island's area. Another 5% of the island's area is covered by the UN buffer zone and the British Sovereign Base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
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
Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7886 2500
Atholl Tweedie / James Stearns
Yellow Jersey PR Limited
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3004 9512
Dominic Barretto / Harriet Jackson
/ Henry Wilkinson
The information in this announcement that relates to exploration results is based on information compiled by Dr. Kerim Sener BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, Managing Director of Ariana Resources plc. Dr. Sener is a Fellow of The Geological Society of London and a Member of The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and has sufficient experience relevant to the styles of mineralisation and type of deposit under consideration and to the activity that has been undertaken to qualify as a Competent Person as defined by the 2012 edition of the Australasian Code for the Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (JORC Code) and under the AIM Rules - Note for Mining and Oil & Gas Companies. Dr. Sener consents to the inclusion in the report of the matters based on his information in the form and context in which it appears.
About Ariana Resources:
Ariana is a UK-based exploration and development company with mining operations focused on epithermal gold-silver and porphyry copper-gold deposits in Turkey, the largest gold producing country in Europe. The Company is developing a portfolio of prospective licences originally selected on the basis of its in-house geological and remote-sensing database, which now contain a total of 1.6 million ounces of gold and other metals (as at end-2017). Ariana's objective is to cost-effectively add value to its projects through focused exploration and to develop its operations, primarily through well-financed joint ventures.
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 production. The total resource inventory at the Red Rabbit Project and wider project area stands at c. 605,000 ounces of gold equivalent (as at end-2017). At Kiziltepe a Net Smelter Return ("NSR") royalty of up to 2.5% on production is payable to Franco-Nevada Corporation. At Tavsan an NSR royalty of up to 2% on future production is payable to Sandstorm Gold.
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. A NSR royalty of up to 2% on future production is payable to Eldorado Gold Corporation.
Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited are broker 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.
Glossary of Technical Terms:
"Ag" chemical symbol for silver;
"Au" chemical symbol for gold;
"Cu" chemical symbol for copper;
"g/t" grams per tonne;
"JORC" the Joint Ore Reserves Committee;
"oz" Troy ounces;
"VMS" Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide;
"Zn" chemical symbol for zinc.