US-based gold exploration company Barrick Gold has opted to continue funding the Arakaka gold project in Guyana.

Through the $10m funding for the exploration expenditure of the project, which is operated by  Alicanto Minerals, Barrick could earn up to 65% interest.

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An earn-in agreement was signed by the parties in March last year.

Funding includes $8m in exploration expenditure within four years, and $2m subsequently paid to Alicanto.

Alicanto Minerals managing director Travis Schwertfeger said: “We are very pleased to see Barrick’s increasing confidence in both the Guiana Shield, and the discovery potential in Guyana’s Northwest Mining District, as the focus on the extensive Arakaka Project area continues to narrow down to several key areas of focus in planned work.

“The target priorities and their potential have evolved over the past year as a direct benefit from Barrick support.”

“The target priorities and their potential have evolved over the past year as a direct benefit from Barrick support, advancing a highly prospective district towards a stage of discovery potential that could not have been achieved by a junior explorer in recent years.

“The Alicanto team is looking forward to a successful 2018 season in the Arakaka region with the project now well positioned to migrate into an advanced stage of exploration with rapidly increasing chances for discovery.”

The exploration budget for next year includes 3,500m of diamond core drilling on the project’s Xenopsaris target area, building on this year’s exploration campaign, which comprised reconnaissance drilling and trenching programmes that identified primary gold mineralisation.

Currently, a trenching programme is taking place at the Xenopsaris area, where Alicanto expects to complete 3,000m of surface channel sampling in the next month.