It's one of the world's top tourist destinations, but the name might be surprising to some.
Last year, this nation attracted over 35 million tourists to its shores - more than Germany and the UK. It's the sixth most visited country in the world - behind only France, the U.S., China, Spain, and Italy.
The country's name is Turkey.
But believe it or not, tourism isn't the only surprising thing to learn about this transcontinental Eurasian country.
As it so happens, Turkey is also a global leader in the production of a variety of metals and minerals as well.
Here's just a quick rundown from the British Geological Survey:
- 7th in the world for bauxite
- 4th in the world for chromium
- 1st in the world for lignite coal
- 2nd in Europe for gold
- 3rd in Europe for iron
- 4th in Europe for silver
Collectively, it holds 2.5% of the world's industrial mineral resources and commercially produces some 50 different metals and minerals in all.
Between 2005 and 2011, Turkey permitted five gold mines - more than Quebec and Nevada during the same time span.
Its in-ground gold reserves are estimated at 34 million ounces, yet the prospective lands there are barely touched.
Turkey's definitely no spring chicken (no pun intended). But in North America, the country often flies under the radar.
That is, up until a few months ago...
Brand new, bonanza grade gold deposits have been discovered by Vancouver-based Pilot Gold (TSX:OTCPK:PLGTF) - a spin-out company from Frontier Gold Inc. after Frontier was acquired by gold giant Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE:NEM) back in 2011.
Pilot's key assets include two properties in Turkey.
Its 40%-owned Halilaga and TV Tower properties are located in the Biga District of northwestern Turkey. Both projects are joint venture partnerships with Teck Resources' (NYSE:TCK) Turkish subsidiary, TMST.
The initial resource estimate from last year's drill program at Halilaga showed 4.97 million ounces indicated gold equivalent and 4.82 million ounces inferred gold equivalent.
This past April, Pilot launched its 2013 drill program at TV Tower with 30,000 meters of drilling planned.
By mid-May, Pilot had reported significant results from its initial ten wells at TV Tower, including 93.0 g/t silver over 122.7 meters and 1.63 g/t gold over 40.7 meters.
This was followed up in July with even stronger mineralization results, including 327 g/t silver over 14.5 meters in step-out drilling and 15.3 g/t gold over 45.2 meters.
At its KCD-102 hole, Pilot intercepted 26.6 g/t gold, 47.2 g/t silver, and 2.12% copper over 16.5 meters.
As a result of their finds, the company recently laid out plans for an additional 29,000 meters of drilling at TV Tower to be undertaken during the rest of 2013.
If the drill results above are of any indication, there could be even more positive results in the near future.
With more than $27 million cash on hand, zero debt, and the same management and technical team that eventually made Frontier a prime acquisition for Newmont, Pilot Gold definitely has the solid fundamentals to advance its projects further.
Since bottoming out in late June at $0.71, the stock has been on a tear and is already up over 48%.
If you're looking to dip your toes back into the gold market, I believe Pilot Gold should warrant a much closer look. And if you're looking for more cashed-up junior gold stocks, I talk about a few of them here.