THE progressive commissioning of the Ramu nickel and cobalt project started late last year and is expected to continue until June this year.
The much-anticipated production should start by the middle of this year.
HPL holds 8.56% interest in the Madang-based minerals project.
The project is fully funded at a cost of US$1.4 billion (K3.8 billion).
The miner said the commissioning of power stations and water supply systems began last October and is due for completion early this month.
On the Frieda River project in Sandaun province where it holds 16.95% interest, the company spent US$12.1 million (K32.7 million) during the quarter in review, or a total of US$38 million (K102. 9 million) for the entire year.
It also drilled 5,430m to look for new mineral deposits during the quarter, for a total of 37,388m during the entire year.
Drilling activities enabled the company to upgrade its mineral resource by 26% during the middle of last month, the company said, adding that 40% of its mineral resource is now in measured and indicated (MaI) category.
Commenting on both of HPL projects, managing director John Gooding said: “The year 2009 had been an exciting year for the company and its shareholders with its two long-term projects making huge steps towards their ultimate development.
“On Ramu, the project is getting closer and closer to the stage where production will start and ultimately cash flow will begin for the Highlands.
“Frieda continues to be very strongly supported by our joint venture partner Xstrata Copper and is very much on the way to defining itself as a world class project as the pre-feasibility study progresses.”
The report also disclosed a cash reserve of US$23.7 million (K64.1 million) as of Dec 31.