THE Hidden Valley mine in Bulolo, Morobe province, produced 43,028 ounces of gold during the last quarter of 2009.
Joint venture participants Harmony Gold Mining Co Ltd and Newcrest Mining Ltd said production increased significantly from the previous quarter as the project continued to ramp up towards full production.
Construction of the 5km overland conveyor linking the Hidden Valley pit with the processing plant was completed during the quarter in review, and process plant throughput reached 85% of design capacity during last month.
The processing plant is expected to reach full production during the March quarter following commissioning of the flotation circuit.
The JV participants expect the original design capacity for the Hidden Valley mine and processing plant (an annualised rate of 250,000oz of gold) to be achieved during the June 2010 quarter, while construction continues on non-production related infrastructure.
Hidden Valley and other joint activities employ almost 1,000 nationals, half of whom are people from the area of operations.
Landowners in the host communities are receiving royalties on every ounce of gold poured.
Morobe Governor Luther Wenge recently told landowners that the mine was becoming an important contributor to the economy of the province.
The JV participants also reported encouraging results from recent exploration drilling conducted on the Golpu West prospect, also in Morobe.