Turkish bank predicts golden outlook for Koza

Mining firm to reap rewards if price surge continues.

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When the Turkish mining company Koza Gold was founded back in 2005, gold was trading at US$400 an ounce and mining stocks were widely out of favour.

Now with the precious metal bumping against all-time highs, the question is whether gold's surge is a passing fad.

The Turkish investment bank Finansinvest does not think so, and raised its price target for Koza to 24 Turkish liras a share from 21.60 Turkish liras this week. The firm upgraded its projections for gold to average $1,225 per ounce this year and $1,362 next year.

"The outlook is very positive," said Ugur Ozker, an analyst at Finansinvest based in Istanbul. "The company has very high earnings margins because of its low cash costs. In addition, the quantitative easing measures by the US Federal Reserve are expected to maintain higher gold prices."

Koza went public in February, at the time the largest Turkish initial public offering in two years, raising 662 million liras.

The company operates two gold mines in Turkey, one in the Aegean region and one in the Black Sea region, and is exploring other sites around the country. According to a report published by the international mineral resources consulting company SRK, Turkey is estimated to have a gold endowment of 31.5 million ounces.

Since it began its operations, Koza's resource base has increased fivefold. It has produced one million ounces of the precious metal in the previous five years. It is aiming to produce about 250,000 ounces of gold this year, said Mr Ozker. Koza recorded a 69 per cent increase in profits to 70.5 million liras in the third quarter.

Most exploration in Turkey has been undertaken only since 2004, when changes in mining laws eased and shortened the process to obtain permits.

Turkey accounted for 7 per cent of the world's jewellery demand over the past five years, ranking fourth after India, China and the US, according to GFMS, an international precious metals consultancy. However, Turkey's gold production meets only a small fraction of total demand.