The Gold Bug Mining Europe’s Most Productive Seam
Kerim Sener can vividly remember when he was first bitten by the gold bug at the tender age of four.
Ever since I was a child, gold has been important to me,” says the founder and managing director of London-listed Ariana Resources.
”I was visiting a museum with my family in Turkey and there was a crock of old Thracian gold coins on display. My mother pointed it out to me and said that somebody had buried it thousands of years ago and it had been of no use to them. I burst into tears. I remember just thinking that this was very sad.”
It’s a moment that has stayed with Sener. He left Turkey with his family for the UK six months later and was educated in Britain. But it is no accident that he has returned to the nation of his birth to fulfil his childhood ambition of doing something useful with Turkish gold.
A Rich Seam
Turkey lies within the globally-significant Tethyan Metallogenic Belt, which hosts some of the world’s largest gold, copper and silver deposits.
The nation is now Europe’s largest gold producer outside Russia, ahead of Sweden, Spain, Finland and Bulgaria with 15 operating gold mines established within the past 19 years.
Turkey has estimated gold resources of 59m ounces and produced 27.1 tonnes of the precious metal last year.
Ariana, founded by Sener in 2003, is playing its part in making the nation which gave the world Santa Claus, gifted tulips to the Netherlands and calls olive oil wrestling its national sport better known for its abundant supply of auriferous land.
The company began gold and silver production in 2017 at an open-cast mine at Kiziltepe, two and a half hours north-east of Izmir, as part of its Red Rabbit gold project in joint venture with Proccea Construction.
“I always wanted to be able to do something with gold in Turkey,” says Sener, who worked as a geologist in Zimbabwe and Australia before setting up Ariana.
“The age of the mineralisation in Turkey varies from around 50 million years ago to about 12 million years ago, but in terms of actually mining gold, Turkey has come on in leaps and bounds since 2000.
”The first gold mine in Turkey actually opened in 1997 but it was only operational for a couple of months before being shut down because of environmental concerns.
”There was big resistance to the use of cyanide in processing but Turkey has worked through those issues and gold is now a real success story for the nation.”
Ariana is also exploring and developing the 1 million-ounce Salinbas Gold Project in north-eastern Turkey, located within a highly-prospective “hot gold corridor” which includes a single 4 million-ounce project.
”That would be by far our largest deposit “ says Sener. “We’ve got another six years of reserves to mine at Kiziltepe.
”Our reserve there is 140,000 ounces, the resource there is 365,000 ounces and we’ve got additional scope for resources in the vicinity. But the Salinbas resources would be a very sizeable uplift.”
Turkey as a gold-producing nation has even more potential. The nation is expected to produce about 33 tonnes of gold this year and has the potential to produce to about 50 tonnes per annum as other projects come on stream over the course of the next few years.
“There’s plenty of potential,” says Sener. “Turkey is not a huge producer by international standards but in terms of the region it is well-positioned to maintain its lead for quite a few years to come.”
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