Newcrest backs away from WA joint venture

The Cadia Valley gold operations in New South Wales.

Newcrest Mining has withdrawn from its joint venture (JV) with Encounter Resources at the Aileron copper-gold-rare earths project in Western Australia.

Encounter now retains full control of the Aileron project, with Newcrest to hold no remaining interest.

The single diamond drill hole completed by Newcrest at the project revealed potential for near surface copper-gold deposits.

“We are pleased to be back in control of Aileron and will immediately commence discussions with potential partners focused on the discovery of IOCG style copper-gold deposits, with enriched rare earth elements, in Western Australia,” Encounter managing director Will Robinson said.

Newcrest also announced its 2021 half year results, revealing the company’s expectation for its group gold production to be at the upper end of its guidance range (1.95 million-2.15 million ounces of gold).

The company expects the Cadia and Telfer gold mines in New South Wales and Western Australia, respectively, to be at the upper end of their guidance range, at 680,000-760,000 ounces and 360,000-420,000 ounces of gold, respectively.

Newcrest foresees the Lihir mine in Papua New Guinea to be in the mid-range of its 2021 guidance at 720,000-820,000 of gold, with Canada’s Red Chris mine to be in the “bottom end” of its 45,000-55,000-ounce guidance.

The company has received regulatory and funding approval at Red Chris, which has led to the construction of the box cut for exploration decline to commence.

The Newcrest board approved a $C135 million ($137.6 million) spending to fund construction.

Newcrest chief executive Sandeep Biswas said the company planned to have a block cave in operation at Red Chris within the next five to six years.

“The commencement of construction of the box cut is a significant milestone in the objective of having a block cave in operation at Red Chris in the next five to six years,” he said.

“Drilling activities have confirmed the presence of high grade pods in the upper sections of the macroblocks and we are evaluating a number of options to mine these pods with the aim of generating cashflows prior to the completion of the block cave.

“Together with the support of our stakeholders, we are excited by the potential to transform Red Chris into a Tier 1 asset through the application of our industry-leading block caving technology.”

Newcrest has a 70 per cent interest in the Red Chris joint venture, with the remaining 30 per cent owned by Imperial Metals Corporation.

According to Biswas, the company is focussing on turning Lihir into a one million ounce plus per year producer, with an understanding of the argillic clays in 2020, advancing its mine plan.

“This year we have leveraged our technical capabilities to establish a pathway to unlock significant value from Lihir,” he said.

“We are progressing a study with an aspiration for Lihir to be a one million ounce plus producer each year for around 10-12 years from (the 2023 fiscal year) at around 15 million tonnes per annum milling rates.”

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