Wafi open cut plans underway

HARMONY Gold has revealed that a concept study for open cut mining at the Wafi deposit of the promising Wafi-Golpu project in PNG is underway. The Golpu deposit was compared to the grades of Grasberg while the project aims to take advantage of the Lae port expansion.
Wafi open cut plans underway Wafi open cut plans underway Wafi open cut plans underway Wafi open cut plans underway Wafi open cut plans underway

In a presentation made for an analysts trip to the project and Hidden Valley mine sites owned by the Morobe Mining Joint Ventures (50:50 Harmony and Newcrest Mining) last week, Harmony said a concept study was underway to evaluate the potential of Wafi.

This comes after the $US4.8 billion Golpu block cave mining project prefeasibility was released in late August, when there were previous expectations that this study would analyse both the Golpu and Wafi deposits.

While Golpu is purely an underground mining opportunity, Harmony showed there was near surface potential at the non-refractory gold zone and the "B Zone" of the Wafi project in a presentation slide.

It is well known that copper-porphyry-hosting regions often have clusters of deposits and Harmony said exploration was hunting for more Wafi-style mineralisation.

But the 69 million ounces of gold resources established at the Golpu deposit alone is closest to Freeport's massive Grasberg mine in terms of copper and gold porphyry grades, according to another slide Harmony presented.

As for export route for product concentrate from Golpu, a Harmony map showed that the Tidal Basin expansion area of Lae's port was where ship loading would occur.

This port expansion project is underway and targeting completion in mid-2014, however recent reports suggest the PNG government needs an additional K210 million ($A98.56 million) for this first phase.

There has also been criticism that the one extra 240m berth offered by the Tidal Basin project will not significantly bring down the present congestion - and there is a missed opportunity to develop three berths in the area already slated for dredging work.

An industry source has previously told PNGIndustryNews.net that Wafi could still be developed earlier, allowing for the Wafi-Golpu project to start up in 2017 in line with earlier expectations.

Further planning work and exploration will also aim to verify whether a deeper third lift expansion at Golpu is feasible.

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