Anglo American plans to withdraw from the Star Mountains copper-gold exploration joint venture with Highlands Pacific in Papua New Guinea.
The mining giant has given notice of its intention to abandon the project in 30 days. Anglo will also relinquish its vested 15 per cent share in the project, leaving ASX-listed Highlands with a 100 per cent interest.
Highlands managing director Craig Lennon said he was disappointed that Anglo would not be continuing with the joint venture.
However, he added that Anglo’s involvement over the past three years had greatly enhanced the understanding of the geology of the tenements and substantially increased the value of the project.
“We will now be free to introduce a new partner to continue exploration efforts,” he said.
“Drilling to date has confirmed extensive mineralisation through the various prospects that have been tested to date, and we remain confident that further exploration will identify the source and structure of the mineralisation sufficiently to support a significant development project.”
Anglo and Highlands formed the JV in February 2015. Since then, Anglo has funded an exploration program, including two diamond drilling campaigns.
It has spent $US38 million ($48.8 million) on the project, including a $US10 million payment to Highlands for the initial entry into the project.
Anglo’s investment in Star Mountains adds to the funding by participants in the project since the site was initially discovered by Kennecott in the late 1960s.