Centerra makes junior’s Christmas, becomes sole owner of gold project in Turkey

London-based explorer Stratex (LON:STI) got an early Christmas present this year as Canadian Centerra Gold (TSX:CG) paid the junior, and partner in the Turkey’s Oksut project, a noteworthy $40 million for its 30% stake in the venture.

With the transaction, announced Wednesday, Centerra becomes the sole owner of Oksut, a promising gold development that went through the million-ounce mark last February.

The news didn’t come as a surprise for analysts as Stratex is known for identifying promising-looking projects.

The Inlice project, also in Turkey, is a case in point. Stratex worked for several years on that endeavor before establishing a two-year mining reserve of just under 60,000 ounces and then announced last month its intention to sell out to an un-named but probably local third party.

Ian Atkinson, president and CEO of Centerra, said in a statement the company’s plan is to transition the project from exploration to development in the short term.

“Our immediate objective is to define the limits of the Ortaçam North deposit and complete enough drilling to calculate a resource  estimate by the end of the year as we continue metallurgical and environmental baseline work,” Atkinson said.

Stratex, which invested only $1 million of its own cash in the project will use the money to fund a drilling program on its acreage in Africa and to find new opportunities in Turkey.

Both companies had been partners in the Oksut gold project since 2009. The Toronto-based miner earned an initial indirect 50% interest in the project by advancing $3 million to the joint venture through October 2011 and acquired an additional 20% interest in the project with an additional contribution of  $3 million, which it completed in October of this year.