Newcrest approves Lihir mine expansion in Papua New Guinea


Newcrest Mining has approved a A$280 million (K696 million) expansion of its Lihir mine in Papua New Guinea, following board endorsement of its Phase 14A feasibility study. The decision is set to deliver higher gold production and may extend mine-life.

Lihir Gold Mine is in Niolam Island, 900 kilometres north-east of Port Moresby. Credit: Newcrest Mining

Higher grade ore mined from the new Phase 14A ore zone, now well informed by geotechnical drilling, is expected to be delivered for processing from 2024.

Up to 2026, the miner expects around 13 million tonnes of high and medium grade ore from Phase 14A to be fed through its processors to produce an incremental 400,000 oz of gold, and 800,000 oz over the life of the mine.

Lower grade material displaced by the higher-grade ore will be stockpiled and fed progressively over the remaining mine life.

‘The development of Phase 14A is another innovative step forward in realising the full potential of Lihir,’ says interim CEO Sherry Duhe.

‘The findings of the study are expected to deliver gold production from an additional high-grade ore source, which would have otherwise been inaccessible through standard mining techniques.’

Newcrest expects its investment to be paid within 2.9 years.

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Updated mine life

The feasibility study also outlines an updated life-of-mine plan, with upside potential.

Newcrest expects the application of steep wall technologies, together with improved barrier design to potentially enable access to additional high-grade zones outside Lihir’s current ore reserve and extend the elevated production profile beyond 2031.

The design optimisation and associated impact on the longer-term production profile is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023.

‘The Wafi-Golpu mining project … appears closer to overcoming regulatory hurdles.’

According to the Mineral Resources Authority, the Lihir mine is expected to be exhausted by 2058/9.

Wafi-Golpu still on hold

The Wafi-Golpu mining project, a joint venture project between Newcrest and South Africa’s Harmony Gold in the Morobe Province appears closer to overcoming regulatory hurdles responsible for the project’s delay.

While last year the Governor of the Morobe Province, Luther Wenge, undertook to withdraw legal opposition to the project commenced by his predecessor – this has yet to occur, according to Newcrest.

In its latest quarterly report, released last week, the company advised shareholders that progress has been made in recent discussions between the joint venture partners and the PNG Government regarding the potential terms of a Mining Development Contract (which is required for a Special Mining Lease).

‘The parties are working to align on a range of fiscal and non-fiscal matters and active engagement continues towards finalising the detailed terms of a Mining Development Contract,’ says Duhe.


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