Highlands Pacific, OTML mull tie-up

Business, Normal

The National, Thursday 13th September, 2012

NDS Pacific managing director John Gooding says the company plans to work closely with the giant Ok Tedi mine in the Star Mountains of Western province to develop its deposit there.
His announcement yesterday follows hot on the heels of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) managing director and chief executive Nigel Parker telling a meeting in Tabubil that close co-operation between OTML and Highlands Pacific was emerging.
Last June, PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) – which owns 63.4% of OTML – bought out 13.04% of Highlands Pacific at a cost of US$15 million and became a cornerstone investor.
Highlands Pacific’s copper-gold porphyry exploration activities at Star Mountains are just 20km north-east of the Ok Tedi mine.
“Our strategy for Star Mountains is simple: to identify multiple near surface copper gold deposits of modest scale – 100-200 million tonnes – which can be easily mined and make a meaningful difference to the production options for the existing OK Tedi process plant, which we believe by mid-decade may have spare capacity,” Gooding said yesterday.
“To this end we will seek to hold discussions with OTML during 2012-13 on the potential for collaboration and possible studies.
“As evidenced by PNGSDP’s recent investment in Highlands Pacific, we believe PNGSDP sees the prospective Star Mountains exploration as an important potential ore source for OTML’s future and we see Star Mountains as an important asset in its own right, in addition to our holdings in Frieda and Ramu.”
Gooding said 14-hole diamond core drilling programme had been successfully completed at the Olgal prospect and drilling on a further four or five identified prospects was expected this year as part of a US$8-10 million 2012 budget.
Drilling is currently underway on the Rattatat and Pad48 prospects, approximately 3km from Olgal.
Assays are progressively expected in coming months.
“Drilling at Olgal was very successful with 12 of 14 holes encountering copper-gold intersections,” Gooding said.
“The standout intersection was the last hole drilled with almost 600m of 0.61 % copper and 0.85 grams per tonne (g/t) gold from just 24m below surface.
“With more drilling this could become a maiden resource, and that is something we may return to in 2013.
“Our current focus is to test multiple high priority targets with the goal of identifying the source of this copper within a potential porphyry cluster.
“That is why our programme for the next 6-12 months will test multiple targets with 1-2 holes each so that we can prioritise our efforts.”