Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) has been granted a new operational licence at its Salinbas gold project in Turkey.

The AIM-listed explorer said the Hizarliyayla licence had been renewed to operational status for 10 years.

READ: Ariana Resources mining at near record levels at Kiziltepe

Meanwhile, another operational licences at the project, Ardala and Salinbas, were currently awaiting renewal.

Ariana also announced the results of drilling at hole ARD022, saying it had found a “higher grade and deeper intercept” than other intercepts reported previously.

The company was also in advanced discussions with “a number of companies” which were interested in developing the Salinbas project.

Dr. Kerim Sener, Ariana’s managing director, said the approval of the Hizarliyayla licence was a “significant step forward” for the company, and that with two licences approved and another awaiting extension the firm was reaching a “decision point” concerning a major new work programme that would include more drilling, technical studies and an environmental impact assessment.

Sener added that the company was “confident” that there was an opportunity to develop a “major new gold mine” at the site producing around 50,000 ounces per year over 10 years.

In early trading on Thursday, Ariana’s shares were 2.4% at 2.1p.