By YEHIURA HRIEHWAZI
FRIEDA River Copper and gold project in Sandaun province is expected to start production in 2017, according to its developer, Xstrata Plc.
A pre-feasibility study is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year, with construction to begin in 2012 and first production in 2017.
This is great news for PNG as it comes at the time when one major open pit mine – Ok Tedi – plans to cease operations by 2014.
Ok Tedi copper/gold/silver mine is seeking Government approval to extend its operations for another three years to work a deposit next to its current operations on Mt Fubilan. Government stands to earn up to a K1 billion in revenue if extended.
Frieda is located in the headwaters of the mighty Sepik River, north of Ok Tedi mine in Western province and 170km northwest of the giant Porgera gold mine in Enga province.
“Our current focus is to conduct various technical studies to support a pre-feasibility study which is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2010,” Xstrata Copper executive general manager project evaluation Peter Forrestal said in a statement.
Xstrata holds a 76.3% stake in Frieda River, while Highland Pacific Ltd holds 16.95% with the remaining 6.75% held by OMRD, the project’s host communities and district, provincial and national governments.
The Frieda River project, located 170km northwest of the giant Porgera gold mine, is shaping up as one of the largest open-pit greenfield copper projects in the world, Highlands Pacific managing director John Gooding said in a separate statement.
The pre-feasibility study is considering mining and processing 50 million tonnes of ore a year.
Last week, Xstrata upgraded its mineral resource estimate for the Horse-Ivaal-Trukai, or HIT, deposit at its Frieda River copper-gold project.
The latest resource estimate includes much increased inventory and improved confidence levels, including a 26% increase in resource tonnage.
Measured resources have been reported for the first time and measured and tonnes now total 40% of the increased resource inventory, it reported.