Drilling rigs have arrived at the Woodlark Island Gold Project in Papua New Guinea in preparation for Geopacific Resources’ development drill-out. This program is aimed at delivering a 1.2 million ounce gold reserve, which is expected to make the project sufficiently viable to be attractive to project financiers.
Achieving this target by spending a maximum of $8 million will earn Geopacific 51% of the Woodlark project.
The company’s geological team has been on site for 10 days preparing for the program. Geopacific says that the rigs have been unloaded and moved to the first drill pads to commence drilling.
Geopacific’s managing director Ron Heeks said, “Drilling will start at the Busai area followed shortly after at the Kulumadau area. We look forward to releasing drilling results regularly along with other project updates as we move Woodlark forward.”
The company also this week announced that a ceremony was held recently on the island to commemorate the return of customary land to the people of Woodlark Island.
Most land in PNG is owned by the local people as customary land but this was not the case on Woodlark Island where large portions of the land were acquired during colonial times, later reverting to state ownership.
Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Benny Allan said that three large portions of land representing about 75% of the island were once again customary land. This was gazetted on August 1, 2016.
The return of the land was celebrated with a land declaration ceremony at Guasopa village. It was attended by government officials and visiting dignitaries from Port Moresby and Alotau, the capital of Milne Bay Province.
The crowd, including Geopacific executives, was treated to singing and dancing by local culture groups as they awaited the arrival of the official party by plane.
Ron Heeks said, “This was a momentous occasion for the people of Woodlark and it was a privilege to celebrate alongside them. It was also encouraging to be recognised by government officials and local leaders as a partner of the people of Woodlark. We look forward to building a strong working relationship that benefits all stakeholders as we develop the Woodlark project together.”
There is no impact on Geopacific or the project from the return of the land and Geopacific and Kula Gold are supportive of the return of land to customary owners. The land on which the mining lease and ancillary leases are held has been excluded from the process and remain under state ownership.
There is no change in tenure for the licences of the project that are held in Kula Gold’s subsidiary, Woodlark Mining Limited (WML). Geopacific is earning directly into WML under the terms of the joint venture.