KEFI Minerals is a dynamic exploration Company focussed on exploring for world-class mineral deposits in the well-endowed and under-explored Tethyan Mineral Belt of Turkey and Arabian Shield of Saudi Arabia. Following its listing in late 2006, KEFI Minerals has established itself as an innovative gold and copper exploration Company and has quickly expanded its exploration portfolio.
KEFI Minerals chief Rayner ‘excited’ by tangible steps forward in Saudi Arabia
Indeed the company’s backlog of licence applications in Saudi Arabia has whetted the appetite of many who indentified the early stage explorer as something of a hidden gem.
And with a number of projects now in hand, the company is taking tangible steps forward.
KEFI now has established two projects from within its first four exploration licences.
And it is still expected to seal more acreage from 19 outstanding applications.
Exploration work on the first project, Selib North, is quickly yielding results.
“The most exciting thing is that we are now drilling,” chief executive Jeff Rayner told Proactive Investors.
“We have been receiving assays in dribs and drabs. We won’t be reporting them to the market hole-by-hole, but I think the first batch of results could be announced in the next couple of weeks.
“We are excited by what we’ve seen so far and what we’ve been intersecting is something totally new.”
Rayner explains that the gold mineralisation is found within a series of pyritic dykes which are coming off an intrusive body below.
“Potentially it can get bigger as we go deeper. So we have planned to do extra geophysics there.
“It is exciting for us, as we weren’t expecting to find this style of gold mineralisation as it wasn’t referred to in any of the research from the BRGM or the United States Geological Surveys in the past 40 years.
“So it is a new discovery. But it is still very much a grassroots project. We are very encouraged that we’ve actually found new structures, that we’ve had good intersections from surface and we are beginning to see evidence in the drill results supporting our initial work.”
While the company awaits the remainder of the results the focus of drilling is now moving on to the next project, Jibal Qutman.
Rayner says that the target here is an ‘exciting’ outcropping quartz vein which is believed to extend for several kilometres.
He explains that the plan is to advance the project fairly quickly starting with a wide-spaced drill programme, which will subsequently in-filled to define a resource.
A maiden calculation could come as early as next year, according to Rayner.
“We’ve got high expectations that this project will end up being an open-cut mine with underground potential.”
“So at the moment the main focus for the rest of this year will be on drilling Jibal Qutman.”
KEFI is currently working with just one drill rig but a second is expected to join the campaign in the coming weeks.
A third and possibly a fourth rig could follow to support a larger drill programme as KEFI is granted further exploration licences.
Rayner says that KEFI, through its partner ARTAR and the G&M JV, is pushing as hard as it can on the licensing front and he is still trying to secure them as quickly as possible.
“We are hopeful we’ll get two more by the end of the year, maybe three.”
“A couple of the licenses we hope to get will be very high priority for us (should we get them). So we’ll be pretty excited to get our hands on those.”
He also explains that generally the latter applications were better informed, following three years of preliminary work and research in the country, and as such they are likely to have even more potential.
“As time progressed our knowledge improved and the licences we applied for later were better researched and were based on a better understanding of the geology.”
Also Saudi Arabia’s lengthy licensing process will provide something of a silver lining in the longer term.
Rayner says this is because the Kingdom’s careful permitting process, which involves interaction with up to fourteen government agencies, actually lays much of the groundwork for a much quicker mine permitting process - if you’re lucky enough to have a suitable project.
Rayner explains that this is the Kingdom’s way of keeping a degree of control on the type of companies that enter the country, by making sure it only receives applications from those serious about finding, developing and building mines.
“The situation is that in some cases it can take longer to get an exploration licence than a mining licence.
“A mining licence is probably going to be much easier to receive.”
“When it gets to that stage you’ve already dealt with many of the issues a company would normally run into and the authorities’ focus is then really on the economics of what you are proposing in your feasibility study.
“They want to see that your project is viable, and that you’ve got the finance for it.
The entire Saudi venture is being done though a partnership with Saudi conglomerate ARTAR - Abdul Rahman Saad Al-Rashid & Sons Company - which specialises in major building and engineering projects.
KEFI owns a 40 per cent stake and is the operator of the Gold & Minerals (G&M) Joint Venture. ARTAR owns the other 60 per cent. The Licences were initially applied for by ARTAR and will be transferred to the G&M JV Company.
Having ARTAR as it partner sets KEFI apart from the other exploration companies that have entered Saudi in recent years, Rayner says.
“You just don’t send an ex-pat mining executive down to these community meetings.
So having a Saudi partner helps us be more efficient as we try to get our licences granted.
“We have a whole team of people working with us from ARTAR, working through issues as they arise.
“They are very happy with our progress and with the results of what we are achieving so far.
Indeed, as the projects move forward Rayner is expecting a significant upturn in activity and newsflow.
He says the Selib North exploration results should be released later this month, while the first results from Jibal Qutman are likely to be ready by late November or early December.
“By December I would expect us to have at least one or two more licences granted. And we’ll be moving towards resource definition drilling - with resource calculations following in the early part of next year.”