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Stratex International reveals 'extremely encouraging' resource estimate for first Öksüt gold zone

Stratex International (AIM: STI) has released what it called an "extremely encouraging" preliminary in-house resource estimate at its Öksüt gold project, located in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey.  The in-house resource estimate determined that the Ortacam Zone, contained a total of 147,814 ounces of oxide gold across all resource categories. The in-house estimate was carried out to JORC standards.

“The Ortacam Zone is the first of a number of highly gold-anomalous zones that outcrop at surface that we have drilled in partnership with Centerra”, Stratex chief executive Dr Bob Foster commented. “we have taken a conservative approach to the resource estimation and anticipate that this will be expanded during 2010”.

Stratex said that 86% of the resource is in the indicated category, with 2.88Mt (million tonnes) grading 1.38 grams per tonne (gpt) equating to 127,825oz. The remaining resource is in the inferred category and contains 927,970 tonnes at 0.67gpt for 19,989oz.

"Even at this early stage and with our conservative approach to resource estimation, we have added approximately 45oz of gold to our resource inventory for every metre drilled at Öksüt".

The in-house estimate is based on the results of sixteen diamond drill holes from 2008 and 2009, and the combined drilling totalled 3,352m. The company said the oxide gold is contained within steeply dipping funnel-like breccia bodies that appear to coalesce within a few tens of metres of the surface, as such Stratex believes Öksüt could potentially host a larger tonnage of open-pittable oxide material, than could be reliably estimated from current drilling results. 

According to Stratex, its understanding of the geometry and controls of the Öksüt mineralisation will improve with further drilling. Currently the down-dip extension of the Ortacam Zone, and a further four zones are the subject of detailed evaluation by the exploration team, subsequently the evaluation will prioritise targets for the 2010 drilling programme.

"Our drilling programme will continue to evaluate the near-surface oxide-type mineralisation as we believe the Öksüt project has the potential to be developed into a low-cost and economically viable heap-leach gold operation”, Foster added.  Potential targets include a geochemical-geophysical anomaly 400m south-west and down-dip of the Ortacam Zone, and four other discrete Ortacam-like zones of gold-rich silica.

Crucially however, Stratex said that Öksüt’s real upside is the potential to identify a substantial sulphide-gold resource associated with porphyry-style mineralisation, beneath the ancient volcanic centre. The next phase of exploration drilling is scheduled to re-commence in Q2 2010, subject to weather conditions.

The Öksüt project is being explored through a joint venture between Stratex and Centerra Gold Inc (TSX: CG), whereby the Canadian explorer will fund a US$3m, three year exploration program to earn a 50% interest in the project. Centerra is also reimbursing Stratex for exploration costs of approximately US$0.13 million. Once Centerra has met its commitments to earn a 50% interest, it will have the option to earn a further 20% by expending an additional US$3 million over the following two years.

This in-house resource is the latest in a number of developments which reflect the progress being made by Stratex in Turkey.

In February the company signed an agreement with privately held NTF Insaat Ticaret (NTF), to formally establish the NS Madencilik joint venture company, for the development of the Inlice and Altintepe gold projects.

NTF can earn a 55% stake in Madencilik through the funding of pre-feasibility and feasibility studies on the projects.  Upon closure, NTF will pay Stratex US$1 million, with further payments scheduled throughout the project development-cycle.

The Inlice project, which is located in southern Turkey, currently contains a total resource of 262,300 ounces of gold. According to Stratex, the ‘open-pittable’ in situ oxide resource is 944,495 tonnes grading 2.29 grams per tonne (gpt) for 69,324 ounces.  At Altintepe in northern Turkey, the oxide resource currently stands at 472,318 ounces of gold, comprising of approximately 13 million tonnes (Mt) grading 1.12 gpt gold in all categories and including 8.3Mt grading 1.48 gpt.

The deal builds on an initial memorandum of understanding (NASDAQ:MOU), which was signed by the companies in June 2009. NTF has been funding scoping and pre-feasibility studies on Inlice and Altintepe since the signing of the MOU. NS Madencilik is targeting production at Inlice during the second half of 2011, while it is anticipated that the Altintepe project may come into production within three years.

In addition to its Turkish projects, in 2009 Stratex expanded its operations to include portfolio of prospective projects in Ethiopia. At the Shehagne project in northern Ethiopia, the company announced positive gold results in November 2009, with initial results from channel-chip sampling highlighting the exciting potential of the 50km₂ license area.

The Ethiopian operation continues to carry the early momentum since September’s acquisition. In January 2010, the company raised £1.3m through a placing, to fund a 3,000 metre drilling program to define maiden resource at Shehagne.  The company also plans to drill the Magenta gold discovery.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company