This was said by owners PanAust when it released its quarterly report at the end of last week.
The revised scope supports a mine life of more than 30 years and greater extraction of the extensive resource by leveraging third-party shared-use infrastructure.
The new project scope comprises:
• A long-life, large-scale open-pit copper-gold mine to extract the Horse-Ivaal-Trukai, Ekwai and Koki (HITEK) mineral deposits.
• A conventional comminution and flotation process plant treating in excess of 40Mtpa of ore.
• Transport of high-quality copper-gold concentrate via a 320km buried pipeline to the Vanimo ocean port for export to custom smelters.
• Peak annual metal in concentrate production of 290,000t copper and 360,000oz gold.
• Sub-aqueous storage and containment of mine waste rock and tailings within a large integrated storage facility.
• A land-based logistics and infrastructure corridor connecting the mine to the Vanimo ocean port
• Low-cost renewable energy from a hydroelectric power facility supplied by water from the integrated storage facility reservoir.
"Hydroelectric power will assist PNG meet its target of 100% renewable energy supply by 2050. The hydroelectric facility will operate beyond the life of the project, supplying surplus power to the Sepik region which currently lacks both substantial generating capacity and a transmission grid.
"To leverage the infrastructure established for the project, opportunities have been identified to further extend the mine life and extract copper and gold from the Nena deposit," the company said.
PanAust says it expects to complete the feasibility study and associated environmental impact statement by the December quarter 2018, before lodging amendments to the 2016 special mining lease application and associated permits, subject to joint venture approval.
"Arbitration proceedings with Frieda River joint venture partner Highlands Pacific continued during the quarter," PanAust said.
The company said that strong quarterly production and cost outcomes were achieved at its mines in Laos.
The Phu Kham copper-gold operation produced 21,201 tonnes of copper in concentrate at a C1 cost of $1.24/lb after precious metal credits from 18,598 ounces of gold and 144,709oz silver. An all-in sustaining cost of US$1.71/lb copper was realised.
The Ban Houayxai gold-silver operation recorded production of 30,866oz gold and 177,976oz silver at a C1 cost of US$677/oz after silver credits. An AISC of $853/oz gold was achieved.
Managing director Fred Hess said the cash flow Phu Kham and Ban Houayxai generated supported PanAust's strategic objective to maximise returns from the operation while advancing projects that offered the potential to sustain and grow the business in the long-term.
"Importantly, PanAust's dedication to achieving operational excellence at its operations, through the pursuit of cost-efficient business methodologies and practices, has enabled the company to make a significant, positive, and lasting contribution to the government and people of Laos," Hess said.