THE Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture has submitted an application for a Special Mining Lease (SML) for the Wafi-Golpu Copper-Gold Project with the Mineral Resources Authority of Papua New Guinea. The 50:50 JV partners are Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold Mining Company.

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The exploration camp at the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture project in Morobe Province.

The application follows a review earlier this year by the Boards of Newcrest and Harmony of a project feasibility study. Further work is being undertaken to optimise the study outcomes and incorporate additional data.

The Golpu deposit has a resource of 824 million tonnes containing 1.05% copper, 0.7 grams/tonne (g/t) gold, 1.25 g/t silver and 90 parts per million of molybdenum.

Studies for the Golpu component have confirmed a robust investment case that supports proceeding with the project. Study results are supported by high grades and early cash flow while costs will be in the lowest quartile for copper.

The Stage 1 feasibility study justifies development of twin exploration access declines, with two proposed block caves designed to extract approximately 50% of the contained gold and copper of the Golpu reserve. The remaining reserve is to be extracted in Stage 2 by a deeper block cave. Stage 1’s common path mining and processing infrastructure will be utilised in support of Stage 2 development.

Future development will ultimately be subject to approval by the Boards of Newcrest and Harmony, market and operating conditions, the grant of an SML and obtaining all necessary permits, approvals and agreements required from the Government of PNG, landowners and other stakeholders.

As well as progressing permitting and the application for an SML, the JV is continuing discussions on a suitable fiscal and stability framework and supporting arrangements with the government. Changes to the level and manner of local equity participation in new projects are being considered as part of the government’s continuing review of the country’s mining act.

The government retains the right to purchase, for its pro-rata share of accumulated exploration expenditure, up to a 30% equity interest in Wafi-Golpu, at any time before the commencement of mining. If the government chooses to take-up its full 30% interest, the interest of each of Newcrest and Harmony will become 35%.

Wafi-Golpu is approximately 60km south-west of Lae, the second largest city in PNG.

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