Joint venture moves forward on Wafi-golpu
Morobe Mining Joint Venture has committed to a feasibility study at the promising Wafi-golpu project, aimed at guiding the prospect into its next phase of exploration.
Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) is on track to make a crucial investment decision that would secure the next phase of exploration at the massive Wafi-golpu gold and copper project in Papua New Guinea.
Despite the impact of external factors, such as the reduced price of gold, MMJV has maintained its commitment to advancing the highly prospective project over the past year.
In December 2013, MMJV—AN evenly split venture between Australia’s Newcrest Mining and South Africa’s Harmony Gold— committed to a feasibility study into an exploration shaft to further evaluate the underground potential of the project.
‘Underground access to the ore body through the exploration shaft would generate essential ore body knowledge required
to support a future development decision,’ MMJV said in a statement.
MMJV is studying a smaller start-up operation than it had previously envisaged, and has engaged engineering consultant Worley Parsons to explore lower cost development options. A final investment decision for the proposed exploration shaft is expected during the second half of 2014.
In conjunction with the feasibility study, MMJV intends to finalise an agreement with the PNG Government to provide a framework for the underground exploration phase, ongoing technical and economic studies and, ultimately, the future development and operation of the project.
A prefeasibility study completed into the Golpu deposit in 2012 estimated development costs of US$4.8 billion for an underground operation that would annually produce 400,000 ounces of gold and 250,000 tonnes of copper over its first 15 years.
Wafi-golpu has a combined resource of 28.5 million ounces of gold and 9.06 million tonnes of copper. The joint venture’s exploration target for the project has been set at 40 million ounces of gold and 15 million tonnes of copper. Newcrest has budgeted to spend between A$18 and A$20 million on exploration at Wafi-golpu during the 2014 financial year.
Meanwhile, the joint venture’s Hidden Valley mine in the Wau Bulolo district of Morobe continues to be a solid contributor to the production profiles of both companies. In the December 2013 quarter, the mine produced 24,792 ounces of gold and 272,710 ounces of silver, a slight rise in output against the September quarter.
‘Wafi-golpu has a combined resource of 28.5 million ounces of gold and 9.06 million tonnes of copper.’