Across the Arafura

Speaking to Goldminex’s chief executive officer, Alexander ‘Sandy’ Moyle, he told Australian Mining that the company has found some interesting prospects as well as some interesting challenges.

Currently exploring within PNG for a number of prospects in copper and gold, Moyle said that one of the main aspects the company has focused on is enforcing Australian safety standards and work practices at its projects.

Working in Papua is not like working in Australia.

Moyle said that while it is "generally easy to deal with the local PNG culture, we have specifically crafted operational policies and procedures for working there, as you have to be reasonably flexible when dealing with the nearby locals.

"It’s like working in Australia, you have a structured work culture, but things don’t always go strictly to plan."

What helps is having a good team assembled which is a key factor in really making headway on foreign projects, in particular hiring geologists and logistics support, Moyle said.

When working in a place such as Papua, culture is not the problem – getting to your projects are.

Goldminex’s main project, Limau, has approximately 15km2 of gold anomaly and is located in the heart of the Owen Stanley ranges.

According to Moyle, preliminary drilling has uncovered grades of 28.1g/tonne of gold at 13 metres, and 18% copper at a depth of 24 metres, "which is very encouraging."

Despite all this, "the remoteness of the site is an issue, with it taking some time to get in and out, and we often have to use helicopters as it’s difficult to drive to the sites," Moyle explained.

However, the company does not foresee this to be an issue as the projects progress.

One thing that is does see as a serious issue is its interaction with the local communities and onsite OH&S, which like many Australian mining companies operating overseas, is of high importance.

Moyle told Australian Mining that "the issue of OH&S and interacting with the locals is particularly serious.

"We keep a medic on site to deal with injuries or disease, and also provide medical health to the local communities and spend a fair bit of time liaising with villages, and while we aren’t a hospital, we do provide this assistance and teach them disease awareness," he said.

This disease awareness program is of increased importance as reports are coming from Papua New Guinea of a new cholera outbreak, which at the time of print has already left more than 100 dead.

While these measures are ones that mining companies operating in Australia do not have to face, it has not dissuaded operations there as attention has been turning to Papua New Guinea as one of the new relatively untapped frontiers of mining.

In the last year it has seen a boom in gold exploration, with a number of mining applications lodged by some of the majors, such as Newcrest who uncovered a new copper gold deposit and BHP who has re-entered the nation.

"I think people are really recognising just how highly prospective this country is now," Moyle told Australian Mining.

The country has also become more attractive as it has risen on the list of the nations with a low sovereign risk for mining.

Between 2009 and 2010, Papua New Guinea progressed up the list from 49th to 34th, while at the same time Australia fell dramatically from 18th to 31st due to the threat of the mining tax, putting the two close to parity.

The reason for this drop was due to the mining taxes.

While Goldminex is currently focusing on Liamu, it is also working on a number of other prospects.

These include the Awari project in PNG’s Highlands where the area has shown porfrey copper gold mineralisation.

Limited diamond drilling has shown approximately 11.4g/t of gold at a depth of 7.7 metres.

It has also lodged two new exploration applications, and is looking at a total exploration area of 13 000 km2, of which 5000 km2 has already been granted.

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