30-year life span estimated for Wafi-Golpu

The Wafi-Golpu mine project, in Morobe Province, is estimated to have a potential life span of more than 30 years.

Executive project director of the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture, Bryan Bailie, said this during the PNG Chamber of Mining and Petroleum Conference in Sydney early this month.

According to Business Advantage PNG, Bailie says the project could be ‘multi-generational’ and has the potential to be a ‘long duration sustainable mining operation’ that could last ‘28 to 35 years or more’.

If developed, the mine will be the largest underground mine in PNG and the first green field mine development since the Hidden Valley mine commenced in 2009.

Bailie said the resource at Wafi-Golpu is estimated to be 820 million tons of mineralized ore at 1.05 percent copper and 0.7 percent grams of gold.

“A multi-staged development strategy is the optimal approach to mining this substantial mineral resource,” Bailie stated.

“The inherent value proposition lies in this mineralised body having multi-generational potential derived from its large scale, its high grade and its embedded optionality.

“The copper grade is estimated to be in the range of 28–30 percent, while the gold concentrate is estimated to be 5–15 grams per ton.”

Bailie said the project would be rolled out in a number of steps to help manage the risk.

“This approach affords an underground exploration platform for further mineral resource development, a reduction in the overall risk profile in developing the greenfield underground blockade mine, improved project portfolio management and multiple decision-making points across the project life cycle, and then staged or phased capital expenditure and shorter development times to first production, thus improving project economics,” he said.

“Blockade 1 … is located 980 metres below the surface.”

Bailie said the emphasis would be on ‘risk mitigation before further investment’, which would make it easier to align the roll out of the project with changes in the commodity markets and the ‘dynamic and fluctuating external environment’.

Wafi-Golpu is an advanced exploration project.

The project is owned by the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV), one of three unincorporated joint ventures between subsidiaries of Newcrest (50 percent) and Harmony Gold (50 percent), formed in 2008 and referred to collectively as the Morobe Mining Joint Ventures (MMJV).

An application for a Special Mining Lease (SML) for the Wafi-Golpu Project was registered on August 25th, 2016, with the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA).

Cedric Patjole