Kefi Minerals Rolls Onwards, With Drilling In Turkey And Progress On Permits In Saudi Arabia
By Alastair Ford
7 January 2010

Jeff Rayner sounds in confident mood when he picks up the phone for a chat about the latest developments at the company he runs as managing director, Kefi Minerals. Drilling has just got underway at the company’s Bakir Tepe gold-copper target in south west Turkey, and under terms that at this stage certainly look favourable to Kefi. Jeff and his team will manage the drill programme, but joint venture partner Centerra will foot the bills, as part of a US$750,000 spending commitment that will ultimately secure it a 51 per cent interest in Bakir Tepe. Initially the plan is to sink three holes, and, says Jeff, depending on the initial results, the location of those holes will be shifted around the property.

The prospect at Bakir Tepe currently shows up as a chargeability anomaly of the kind associated with sulphide mineralization at depth. In this case the anomaly lies between 100 metres and 200 metres below surface, extends 800 metres in length, and is a couple of hundred metres wide. On the surface, says Jeff, the company has all the indications of mineralisation you could wish for in terms of rock chips and other samples. What’s more, two mines nearby, one historic, and one still in operation, have demonstrated the region’s ability to produce good grades of copper and gold. In no sense are Kefi or Centerra shooting in the dark, so you get the sense that Jeff’s slightly underplaying his hand when he states in rather stark fashion: “we hope when we drill it that it’s mineralized and not a bunch of barren pyrite”. No doubt shareholders agree.

Still, exploration’s a risky business, which is why it pays to have more than one iron in the fire. And so, with one exploration programme just getting underway, it’s nice for Kefi also to be able to report the recent completion of another drill programme in Turkey, this time on the Artvin property in the north east of the country, also held in conjunction with Centerra. The results from Artvin should be out by the end of January, but in the meantime Jeff is keen to emphasise that Kefi is still “active on project generation”, and that the company continues to look for deposits similar in style to Bakir Tepe and Artvin.

Meanwhile, over in Saudi Arabia, where Kefi is hopeful of gaining exploration permits on 23 separate licences, a recent administrative log-jam has just cleared. Jeff still isn’t able to say precisely when he expects the Saudi permits to come through, but he will say that he’s hopeful that the company will be able to start work on at least some of them within the first quarter of this year. For a country that has, let us say, a mixed reputation in the mining world as far as bureaucratic processes are concerned, that’s pretty fast work. The issues, explains Jeff are the usual ones – various ministries need to visit the sites in turn, to check respectively for archaeological, or environmental or any other likely issues. Two of the licences that Kefi hopes to gain permits for have already passed inspection, Jeff adds, with inspections on a further five coming up fairly soon. The rest of the company’s properties are slightly further behind, as the authorities have yet to confirm whether anybody else is laying claim to any part of the licences that Kefi is shooting for.

But there’s no doubt in Jeff’s mind that “the permits in Saudi are moving forward”. When they do, the prospects are enticing, to say the least. The company will be working up prospects across hundreds of kilometres of almost entirely unexplored ground, with the ultimate aim of proving up a million ounce resource on at least one of its licences. And although Kefi’s ground may be largely untried as far as modern exploration is concerned, there’s evidence of ancient workings all over the place.

It’s enough to whet the appetite of any armchair explorationist. Investors will have to be patient, though, at least as far as the Saudi properties are concerned. Even allowing for the initial permits, there will still be other bureaucratic hurdles before the company can get down to serious work. But in the meantime, some nice drill results from the Turkish gold-copper projects would certainly keep interest levels high, especially in these times of high gold and copper prices. This may yet be the year that markets finally wake up to Kefi.