MRA to conduct study for potential copper, gold bodies

The Mineral Resources Authority is looking at conducting studies for potential deep copper and gold bodies in the country as well as establishing a mineral repository to monitor all the copper and gold production, says managing director JERRY GARRY. Business reporter DALE LUMA spoke with Garry on MRA’s outlook for the year.
The Mining Haus in Port Moresby. – Nationalpic by JOEL HAMARI

THE Mineral Resources Authority’s (MRA) plans to conduct studies on potential deep copper and gold bodies in the country.
Managing director Jerry Garry said it would also establish a mineral repository to monitor all the copper and gold production.
Detailing the MRA’s outlook for the year, Garry said the survey gold and copper would indicate the country’s reserves, and the monitoring system on production would provide real-time visibility.
“The MRA has several major projects,” he said.
“Firstly, we want to (issue) permit (for) Wafi-Golpu and get Porgera to reopen as quickly as possible.
“Our activities for quarter one, up to April and May, will be concentrated on these two major projects.
“We also have to two other national projects that we want to roll out.
“One is finding out or testing areas of interest for potential deep copper and gold bodies.”
Garry said the survey was supposed to be carried out last year but because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), the geophysical equipment could not be brought from Australia.
“We couldn’t get them up here. We will be focusing again this year to see if we can get one of the teams up here to undertake this survey,” he said.
“If we get them up here, we will roll out.
“What it will do at the end of the day is if the trial is successful, we will be able to deploy this technique all over the country to find copper and gold bodies sitting below 500km from the surface.”
Garry said it would be an exciting project.
“(If) the system works, it will open up a lot of hidden resources we have in the country,” he said.
“And that is simply because many of the gold and copper will be exploited and there is nothing remaining in the inventory as reserves for the nation to give us confidence that the mining industry will continue.
“So we need to look outside the box and trial this new concept where it will give us the flexibility and the capability to search for new bodies and that will sustain the mining industry in the country.
“We are keen to get it up and running.
“It’s expensive, very expensive survey.
“But it’s worth the investment because it will unlock billions worth of ore bodies in the country.”
Garry said the other project was starting feasibility studies for what was called repository at the MRA.
“We are trying to build a data base to monitor all the copper and gold production from all the mines in the country from a central location here at MRA,” he said.
“We started feasibility and there seems to be some uncertainty with the industry with questions of security and etc.
“The law does allow us to get that information from all the operating mines and this is just another way of getting the information from the mines.
“It will give us real-time visibility to how much copper and gold they are producing on a minute or seconds basis.
“Once we have that information, one of the things that will happen is that if they are producing below the capacity of the plant, we will basically pick up the phone and say look, you have been producing well below. Can you improve your recovery?
“This is so that we are not losing metals into the tailings which is really the waste product.”
Garry said Ok Tedi Mining Ltd and Ramu were willing to allow engineers to look at their processing plants and undertake feasibility studies.
“There are some resistance from other mines,” he said.
“We will be meeting with the chamber of mines and petroleum to iron out those concerns and try to get this project rolling.
“There is really nothing to worry about if the companies are operating in a transparent manner.
“If there is nothing to hide, there’s no concern.
“But if they have something to hide, then they will be putting up resistance.
“Hopefully, we can have consultation with the chamber of mines and get some general understanding established with these other operators.”
Garry said the plan was to rollout the programme this year.
“We will have the capability to see how much gold and copper is produced,” he said.
“We (will check) all operating mines so that we can track down how much metals are produced, how much they declared that they have sold so that there is some reconciliation.
“We can have comfort that these amount of metals have actually gone when they pay their royalties and levies.
“We can be sure that the numbers fall within the expected rate.
“Right now we don’t have that visibility.”