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Wafi, PNG's first large scale underground mine

Road leading into Wafi Gold and Copper Mine : Photo credit: Andrew Tapia
AN application to develop PNG’s first major multi-million dollar underground gold and copper mine at $US4.191billion in Wafi, Morobe Province, was lodged with the Mineral Resources Authority in Port Moresby last Thursday. Tenement holder Wafi Mining Limited lodged a special mining lease (SML10) on behalf of the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture on behalf of its partners. WML is a wholly owned subsidiary of Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited (Harmony), a listed company in South Africa, and Newcrest PNG 2 Limited, whose ultimate holding company is Newcrest Mining Limited (Newcrest). MRA’s managing director Philip Samar said the project will be the first major, large-scale underground resource project in the Morobe Province, although Newcrest and Harmony subsidiaries jointly operate the Hidden Valley mine near Wau. Mr Samar said registration of the SML is a significant milestone for the companies involved and for Papua New Guinea, coming at a time when the mining sector is commencing a recovery from a severe cyclical downturn.

 “This Wafi-Golpu project application, together with the recent Frieda River application, further boosts PNG’s status as a highly ranked and prospective, global, mining investment destination. “It provides growing confidence for the future of our mining industry, which has long been the mainstay of the Papua New Guinea economy.  “As a developed mine, the project will increase national gross domestic product and export earnings and provide a long term boost to government revenues. It will also generate benefit streams to landowners and host communities, as well as create new employment and business development opportunities during project construction and operation,” Mr Samar said. Mr Samar said Wafi-Golpu will be the largest underground mine in Papua New Guinea, utilising a proven block cave mining method, which has been highly successful in Newcrest’s Cadia mine in Australia. It is a high productivity, low cost mining method, generating less surface waste material and enables higher value ore located at depth to be accessed earlier. The Golpu deposit has a JORC compliant mineral resource of 824 metric tons (MT) at 1.05 per cent copper, 0.70grams/ton (g/t) gold, 1.25g/t silver and 90ppm molybdenum. The capital cost to achieve commercial production for the project is estimated at $US2.64 billion, with a sustaining capital (post steady-state production) cost of $US1.551 Billion giving a total project capital cost of $US4.191 Billion. Mr Samar said there will be an estimated development period of five years to commencement of production. “The initial life of the mine is expected to be 28 years, with the pre-feasibility study supporting further expansion to extend the initial operation beyond 40 years. The estimated average annual production of metal in concentrate over the initial life of mine is 102,000 tons of copper and 198,000 ounces of gold,” Mr Samar said.

Post Courier / PMW
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