Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold’s Wafi-Golpu joint venture (JV) gold project has taken a forward step following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Papua New Guinea yesterday.
The MoU states that the miners intend to complete their permitting process and achieve a special mining lease by June 30 next year.
While the JV is still subject to some finalisation, such as board approvals from Newcrest and Harmony Gold, the MoU affirms the commitment of the PNG Government and the two companies to proceed with Wafi-Golpu.
The ambitious project has been in the works for a long time — deep drilling commenced in 2008. Wafi-Golpu is expected to create 2500 construction jobs and 850 ongoing operational jobs to the Morobe province of PNG.
The project comprises three deposits, including the Golpu copper-gold deposit Nambonga copper-gold deposit and Wafi gold deposit.
Stage one capital costs for works on the upper portion of the ore body are pegged at $US2.8 billion ($3.9 billion), while total project costs stand at $US5.3 billion ($7.3 billion) over a 28-year mine life.
The MoU allows the JV partners to complete approval processes and commence a works program that includes increased underground access for drilling works at the Golpu deposit and the building of a bridge over a river to provide highway access.
Newcrest managing director and chief executive officer Sandeep Biswas said the works would benefit the province of Morobe, injecting capital into the economy and improving access to remote areas.
“We have been working constructively with the Government of Papua New Guinea to progress permitting of the project and recently achieved key milestones in the process with completion of our feasibility study update in March 2019 and environmental impact statement in June 2018,” he said.
“This MoU builds on that progress and captures our joint understanding of the terms and timeline that we are working towards.”