NEWCREST Mining and Harmony Gold plan to complete a feasibility study to evaluate an underground exploration program for the Wafi-Golpu project. The exploration project is owned by the Wafi-Golpu unincorporated joint venture (JV) between subsidiaries of Newcrest (50%) and Harmony (50%), and is in Morobe province of Papua New Guinea.
The Wafi-Golpu joint venture between Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold hosts one of the highest grade porphyry copper systems in South East Asia.
The next phase of work requires a feasibility study on an exploration shaft and associated underground staging platforms to complete deep underground drilling and bulk sampling of the ore body. Underground access to the ore body through the exploration shaft would generate essential ore body knowledge required to support a future development decision. Geotechnical drilling to identify a suitable exploration shaft location is under way.
The Johannesburg office of engineering consulting firm WorleyParsons TWP has been engaged to prepare the feasibility study for the proposed exploration shaft for consideration and approval by the joint venture. Their engagement also includes a review of an associated lower capital expenditure development option for the Golpu deposit to underpin the commercial decision to sink an exploration shaft.
The JV anticipates a final investment decision for the proposed exploration shaft during the second half of 2014, subject to receipt of necessary regulatory approvals. The JV also aims to finalize an agreement with the State to provide a framework for the underground exploration phase, ongoing technical and economic studies and, ultimately, the future development and operation of the project.
These planning and study activities are accommodated within the 2014 exploration budget for the project. In parallel to these planning and study activities, the joint venture will continue with investment in the community in the Wafi-Golpu project area.
The Wafi-Golpu resource in 2009 was 306 million tonnes @ 1.04 grams/tonne gold and 0.6% copper for 10.2 million ounces of gold and 1.8 million tonnes of copper. Today it stands at 1.2 billion tonnes @ 0.76 grams/tonne gold and 0.77% copper for 28.5 million ounces of gold, 9.1 million tonnes of copper and 50.6 million ounces of silver, and with further exploration potential.
The Wafi-Golpu project includes the Golpu copper-gold porphyry deposit, Nambonga copper-gold porphyry deposit and Wafi high sulphidation epithermal gold deposit. Exploration activity has shown that the Wafi-Golpu tenements host one of the highest grade porphyry copper systems in South East Asia.
Golpu deposit is one of several porphyry ore bodies identified along the 25km-long Wafi-Transfer. Newcrest and Harmony are actively exploring this highly prospective terrain for additional deposits.
Meanwhile, Newcrest has announced the appointment of Greg Jackson as CEO of Morobe Mining Joint Ventures (MMJV), which comprises three unincorporated joint ventures between subsidiaries of Newcrest and Harmony – Wafi-Golpu Exploration Project, Hidden Valley Mine and Morobe Exploration Portfolio.