Mega miner: Newcrest Mining finally agrees to tie the knot with Newmont


There’s every likelihood that a takeover of Newcrest Mining by Newmont Corporation will be completed by the end of this year. But how will this affect Newcrest’s Papua New Guinea-based assets – the Lihir gold mine and the Wafi-Golpu project? Business Advantage PNG looks at what we know so far.

Post-takeover, the Lihir gold mine will add to Newmont Corporation’s growing portfolio of tier-one mines. Credit: Newcrest Mining

ASX-listed Newcrest Mining took a step closer to finding itself back within the stable of its original owner, United States-based Newmont Corporation, after its board agreed to accept a A$29 billion (K61.3 billion) takeover offer from the world’s biggest gold miner.

Assuming Newmont’s takeover offer receives the necessary regulatory approvals and a thumbs-up from Newcrest shareholders in September/October, the takeover is likely to be complete by the end of 2023.

Once completed, Newmont will own one of PNG’s biggest gold mines, the world-class Lihir mine, which Newcrest (itself a former subsidiary of Newmont) bought for A$10 billion (K23.4 billion) in 2010, then promptly wrote down by half.

It will also own a 50 per cent interest in the yet-to-be-licenced Wafi-Golpu copper-gold project.

Assuming the long-awaited Wafi-Golpu proceeds as planned, and the State and Morobe Province take up their maximum allocations, Newmont will end up owning half a 70 per cent stake in the copper-gold project, along with joint venture partner, Harmony Gold.

Stronger in-country presence

Newmont has not stated specific plans for any of the assets it plans to acquire from Newcrest, PNG-based or otherwise.

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Nevertheless, the mining major has said it plans to establish in-country offices in PNG, and is committed to ‘strong, proactive and mutually beneficial relationships’ with host governments and local communities.

Newmont Corporation’s Tom Palmer Credit: Newmont

‘As part of this commitment, Newmont plans to establish PNG as a stand-alone fifth region in our portfolio, with senior leadership presence in Port Moresby,’ says Newmont Mining CEO Tom Palmer during a recent business update.

However, it is not yet clear if Newmont will take over Newcrest’s secondary listing on PNG’s stock exchange, PNGX, as Santos did when it merged with Oil Search in 2021.

Lihir a ‘keeper’

While Lihir currently accounts for a third of Newcrest’s total annual [gold] production, the mine has continuously fallen short of its own one million ounces of gold a year projection and broker reports suggest the mine has historically struggled to generate a strong return on assets.

Nevertheless, Tom Palmer believes low-cost ways could be found to squeeze more value from Lihir, which he regards as strategically important, especially given the company’s plans to boost its copper exposure.

He also expects Lihir to ‘benefit from being in a bigger balanced portfolio.’

‘Our immediate focus is on de-constraining the mine and focussing on medium-to-short-term planning and planning for productivity,’ he says.

‘We think that by doing this we can make a significant shift towards industry benchmarks, which will lead to a significant reduction in the mining cost.’

Less certainty around Wafi-Golpu

Newmont was quick to disclose that any assets deemed ‘non-core’ could be sold post-takeover.

The miner is already talking about creating US$2 billion in ‘additional cash flow’ through better utilisation of its portfolio of ‘core’ mining assets.

Given that it is not mentioned within Palmer’s plans to create an estimated US$500 million in ‘annual synergies,’ Newmont’s plans for the Wafi-Golpu project appear less certain than they are for Lihir.

Assuming a special mining lease is finally granted, the Morobe Province-based Wafi-Golpu project is forecast to produce 320,000 ounces of gold and 150,000 tonnes of copper annually.

‘As we work our way through understanding the portfolio, we will be making judgements about what our go-forward portfolio is,’ says Palmer.

‘We’re taking a ‘value over volume’ approach and the starting point is the 11 tier one assets that make up two-thirds of the production from the two companies.’

Meanwhile, Stanley Komunt, Country Manager for Newcrest Mining in PNG, told a business forum in Port Moresby last week that Newcrest remained fully committed to the permitting process for Wafi-Golpu and the running of Lihir during the pre-takeover period.


  1. Lucy Bossard says

    Mm mm… not sure how this is going to play out for the national sovereignty and our individual rights and autonomy; one needs to dig deeper than the surface carrot on the stick return for the nation. For interest sake, check out what USA oil and gas and mining giants came to be in Venezuelan economy and its Leadership. Read my comment between the lines, it’s a floating iceberg, much more than what one can perceive on the surface ( what is the real interest? And whose interest is this? What is the REAL AGENDA? Is this about power grabbing and having to dictate to us how we should run our internal and external affairs? Is this the start to … ( you fill the rest), Ask tough questions – you the so-called PM’s advisors). Learn from experiences of other developing nations throughout the world. Let us be rather poor and be happy than be rich with no real human freedom!

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