PANAUST has registered a Special Mining Lease (SML) application for the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project with the PNG Mineral Resources Authority. The application follows completion of a feasibility study and lodgement satisfies a condition of the exploration licence.

The SML application comprises a Proposal for Development, which incorporates the feasibility study and further supporting documents including an Employment and Training Plan; Land Ownership Study; and Business Development, Supply and Procurement Plan.

The Land Ownership Study presents findings of extensive research into the customary ownership of land that will be included in tenements being sought for project development.

The Employment and Training Plan, and Business Development, Supply and Procurement Plan outline the employment and business opportunities which prioritise landowning and other host communities close to the proposed mine and associated logistics corridor.

PanAust managing director Dr Fred Hess said lodgement of the SML application represented a crucial milestone in the pursuit of organic growth. “We anticipate that the Frieda River project will make a substantial positive economic contribution to PNG at a national and provincial level. Submission of the SML application gives us a good platform to secure support for major shared-use infrastructure, which would benefit the project and the people of Sandaun and East Sepik provinces.

“An Environmental Impact Assessment is being prepared and is scheduled for submission in the December quarter.”

Frieda River represents one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits. The Horse-Ivaal-Trukai, Ekwai and Koki (HITEK) mineral resource is estimated at over 2.7 billion tonnes at an average grade of 0.42% copper and 0.23 grams/tonne gold and contains approximately 12 million tonnes of copper and 19 million ounces of gold.

PanAust considers that the optimum approach to this resource is via a multi-staged development that involves an initial project that forms the platform for subsequent phases of exploration, resource definition and development.

The feasibility study contemplates an initial project based on the HITEK copper-gold porphyry deposits and comprises a large-scale, open-pit mining operation that feeds ore to a conventional process plant nominally rated at 40 million tonnes per annum. Average annual production of metal in concentrate is 175,000 tonnes of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold over the initial mine life, estimated at 17 years.

PanAust holds an 80% interest in the project with joint venture partner Highlands Pacific holding the remainder.

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