The discussions between Harmony Gold Mining, Newcrest, and the PNG government are now set to resume more than a year after the signing of the MOU for the Wafi-Golpu Project
Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest are set to restart discussions with the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government on the special mining lease for the Wafi-Golpu Project, which were stalled due to a legal hurdle.
The underground gold and copper project had been delayed by a judicial review proceeding brought by the Governor of the Morobe Province against the PNG government’s decision to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the two mining companies.
The National Court in PNG has dismissed the judicial review proceeding and has lifted a stay order that restricted the joint venture from continuing discussions with the federal government.
The discussions between Harmony Gold Mining, Newcrest, and the PNG government are now set to resume more than a year after the signing of the MOU under their Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV).
Harmony Gold Mining, which is a South African gold miner, alongside Australian miner Newcrest established the 50:50 joint venture in 2008 to develop the exploration licences EL 440 and EL 1105 in the Morobe Province.
The MOU signed by the parties was an affirmation of their intent to move ahead with the project, subject to receipt of the necessary permits and approvals from the joint venture partners.
Days after signing of the MOU in December 2018, the provincial assembly of Morobe, called The Tutumang, passed a resolution to reject the MOU for the underground gold and copper mine citing that it was not involved in the process. The project had also been opposed by local landowners.
Last year, the PNG government withdrew its support to the MOU on the basis of the delays resulting from the legal proceedings, while asking for a 40% stake in the project.
Harmony CEO Peter Steenkamp said: “The WGJV is well placed to resume discussions with the PNG Government, given the constructive progress already made on the various agreements required for completion.
“We believe Wafi-Golpu is a game changer for Harmony – both in terms of replacing our ounces and increasing margins.”
Brief details of the Wafi-Golpu Project
The Wafi-Golpu Project comprises the Golpu copper-gold porphyry deposit, the Nambonga copper-gold porphyry deposit, and also the Wafi high sulfidation epithermal gold deposit.
According to Newcrest, exploration activity done so far has shown that the tenements of the project host one of the highest-grade porphyry copper systems in south-east Asia.