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Proactive weekly mining highlights: Ariana Resources, Ironridge Resources, Erris Resources...

A look at the week's main events in the small-cap mining sector

Ariana Resources PLC - Proactive weekly mining highlights:

The gold and copper sectors were shining this week after experts hiked price forecasts for both metals.

Analysts at Berenberg upped their 2020 gold price forecast above market consensus amid what they said were “supportive macro and geopolitical factors” lifting the price of the yellow metal.

The German bank raised its 2020 gold price forecast to US$1,525 an ounce, lower than the current price of around US$1,555 but 3% higher than Bloomberg consensus of US$1,482.

Similarly, analysts at Liberum Capital raised their price forecast to US$3 per pound (lb) from US$2.70/lb for 2020, while the City consensus is US$2.78/lb.

A number of strong updates came from gold producers this week, such as Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU), which surpassed its forecast for the year by almost 12% having produced  a record 27,985 ounces of gold in 2019.

The output from its Kiziltepe mine in Turkey in the fourth quarter was also close to a new record, the AIM-listed company said.

Fellow gold producer Ironridge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) hailed 'exceptional' assay results from first drilling at the Zaranou project in the Ivory Coast. 

In a shallow drilling programme, the junior hit grades as high as 23 grammes per tonne (g/t) of gold, while one hole showed gold at 3.39 g/t over a width of 22 metres (m).

Erris Resources PLC (LON:ERIS) revealed that it is set to kick off work to take the Loch Tay Gold Project to an inferred resource of 250,000 ounces of the yellow metal, having concluded due diligence work on the project.

In doing this it will earn an 80% share of the Scottish prospect, which is around 27 miles from the permitted Cononish mine, owned by ScotGold Resources Ltd. (LON:SGZ) that also sits on the Grampian gold belt.

Scotgold itself also released an update on exploration activities at the Grampian project where it has collected a total of 177 samples along 500 metres.

The company said that more sampling is required to determine the extent and nature of the observed anomaly, though it noted that encouraging results indicate that the anomaly may extend further to the southwest, for a considerable distance.

Meanwhile, Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc (LON:CMCL) (TSE:CAL) revealed it produced a record 16,876 ounces of gold during the quarter ended 31 December 2019.

Chief executive Steve Curtis said that an improvement in the electricity supply and a rigid focus on grade control had helped boost production at the Blanket gold mine in Zimbabwe by 24% over the previous quarter, and by 13% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2018.

Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR) highlighted what it says are “very encouraging” results from sample assays at its Pilbara goldfield tenements in Western Australia.

The AIM-listed explorer reported that three samples had assayed above 0.3 grammes per tonne (g/t) of gold, while one assay had reported 0.9 g/t.

Fellow Australian ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Mercator Gold Australia (MGA) received a cash refund for research and development expenditure of A$555,212 (approximately £295,515) under a tax incentive scheme.

The precious metals exploration and development company said the qualifying activities pertain to research into turbidite-hosted gold deposits within MGA’s exploration licences in Victoria.

Money landed for Landore Resources Limited (LON:LND) as well, having raised £250,000 in a share subscription backed by its chief executive, Bill Humphries, and James Hudleston, one of its major shareholders.

The Canada-focused mining firm raised the funds through a subscription to certain existing shareholders of around 32.1mln new shares at a price of 0.7p each, a 2.9% premium to its Monday close price.

Galantas Gold Corp (LON:GAL) told investors that it is continuing “positive discussions” with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) with a view to resume blasting operations at the Omagh gold mine.

Current blasting arrangements at the Northern Ireland mine require supervision by the police and Galantas noted that the current arrangements are not sufficient for the company’s desired level of operations.

Alba Mineral Resources PLC (LON:ALBA) said it is aiming to advance exploration and development of its Clogau and Amitsoq projects in 2020 to drive the two sites toward commercial production.

In an update on its work plans for the coming year, the AIM-listed miner said exploration at Clogau, a gold project in Wales, will continue to assess and refine a plan to reopen the historic Clogau-St David’s gold mine for commercial production, while results from a diamond drilling campaign at the site are expected by the end of January.

Shanta Gold Limited (LON:SHG) comfortably beat its 2019 production forecast even with reduced output from the New Luika mine in the fourth quarter.

The Tanzania-based miner produced 19,550 ounces (oz) of gold in the last three months taking the yearly total to 84,500oz, 500oz better than the top of the guided range.

Jumping to the copper sector, Azerbaijan-based Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) generated record revenues in 2019 driven by increased copper production and strong commodity prices.

A cash inflow of US$31.3mln will also mean the miner clearing all of its outstanding loans and becoming debt-free next month.

Amur Minerals Corporation (LON:AMC) completed the base line environmental assessment for the Kun Manie nickel copper project which was then approved by the necessary Russian Federation agencies.

Positive news came from Mineral & Financial Investments Ltd (LON:MAFL), whose shares kicked to a two-year high after an initial study indicated that the Lagoa Salgada project in Portugal could form the basis of a “low cost, high-margin”.

A maiden preliminary economic assessment (PEA) has been carried out by M&FI’s 75%-owned subsidiary Redcorp Empreedimentos Mineiros and Canada-listed Ascendant Resources Inc (TSE:ASND).

In Australia, NQ Minerals PLC (LON:NQMI) announced A$15.5mln in revenue and gross profits of A$7.4mln during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The NEX-listed firm said base and precious metals production from the flagship Hellyer mine amounted to 8,160 tonnes of lead concentrate and 4,904 tonnes of zinc concentrate, while full-year revenues amounted to just under A$54mln.

Savannah Resources PLC (LON:SAV) announced that the Mozambique government has issued a mining licence for the ‘9228C’ area, which is the third and final licence for its joint venture with Rio Tinto plc (LON:RIO).

The Mutamba heavy mineral sands project, which spans some 11,807 hectares, is now covered by a mining licence that’s valid until September 2044, with a possible 25-year extension.

Also in Mozambique, Ncondezi Energy Ltd (LON:NCCL) announced it expects to finalise power tariff negotiations in the first half of 2020  for the integrated Ncondezi coal-fired power project and coal mine in Tete.

Elsewhere in Africa, Base Resources Ltd (ASX:BSE)(LON:BSE) issued revised production guidance for the Kwale mineral sands project in Kenya.

The firm said production of rutile is now expected to be between 75,000 and 81,000 tonnes, up from a previously forecast range of between 64,000 and 70,000.

Elsewhere, Capital Drilling Ltd (LON:CAPD) saw revenue rising 4.8% to US$30.7mln in the three months ended 31 December compared to the previous quarter.

For the full year, the company brought in US$114.8mln of revenue, in the middle of guidance for US$110mln to US$120mln.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) revealed it is in 'active discussions' over the finance options to develop Leigh Creek in Australia as a second source of revenue. Revenue currently comes from the Cobre iron ore tailings operation in New Mexico.

This rose by 12.5% to US$713,000 in the final quarter of 2019 but dropped over the year to US$2.5mln from US$3.35mln due to an ongoing dispute with one customer. An arbitration meeting is expected to be scheduled shortly.

Landore Resources Limited (LON:LND) has appointed Glenn Featherby, who has 35 years' experience in corporate advisory work and an extensive background in the resources sector, as a non-executive director with immediate effect.

Cobra Resources PLC (LON:COBR) saw its shares resume trading on the LSE’s main market this week after the Australia-focused explorer placed 61.3mln shares at a price of 1p each, raising £613,300.

Coloured gems miner Gemfields will soon follow suit, as it is set to rejoin the junior market in London two and half years after delisting from AIM.

The emeralds and ruby miner, which decamped in 2017 after a takeover from a major shareholder, has enjoyed record levels in the price of coloured gems.

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