Turkish delight as Irish exploration firm lands €3.4m deal

Paul O'Donoghue

Irish firm company IMC Exploration has struck a deal with Turkish mining giant Koza Gold to farm out five of its precious metal exploration licences in Ireland.

The deal will see Koza operate the licences, conducting exploration activities in the fields and financing the operations in an investment worth €3.4m.

It will take a 75pc stake in the project while IMC will hold the remaining 25pc.

Four of the licences are located in Wicklow while the fifth is in Wexford.

The licences are close to the ancient Avoca copper and gold mines, where exploration dates back to the Bronze Age, and to the Gold Mines river, the scene of the 1796 goldrush.

IMC announced in 2012 that it had found "exceptionally high" gold results after drilling in Co Wexford.

Chairman Liam McGrattan said that the company had more positive results from drilling in January and decided to bring in Koza to help develop the licences faster.

"If we didn't have a joint venture partner we would look at it ourselves, but we wouldn't be able to develop it nearly as fast as with Koza," he said.

Koza now has six more drilling targets in the area. Drilling is set to begin to begin in the coming days and will last for several months. Mr McGrattan said that drilling will continue until the commercial viability of the project can be proven.

Dublin-based IMC also previously announced its intention to list on the London Stock Exchange.

The firm is currently listed on the Icap Securities and Derivatives Exchange (ISDX), formerly known as the Plus Markets Group. It is expected that it will list on the London exchange before the end of the year.

IMC was incorporated in June 2011 and its shares began trading on the Plus market in October of that year. It transferred to the GXG in May 2012 after the closure of Plus.

The directors of the company at the time of its launch included company chairman Mr McGrattan and Neil Ring, who were major shareholders. Another major shareholder was Ring's sister-in-law, Lisa McDonnell.

Currently in the pre-revenue stage, IMC made a loss of €223,122 in the year to the end of June 2014. This compared to a loss of €356,804 in the 2013 financial year.

Koza is a subsidiary of Koza Altin Isletmeleri, one of the largest gold mining companies in Turkey which has a market capitalisation of about $1bn.

Last year it produced almost 320,000 ounces of gold and has gold reserves of 4.2m ounces.