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The proposed Wafi-Golpu mining project comprises the construction and operation of on underground copper-gold mine and associated ore processing, concentrate transport and handling, power generation, water and tailings management, and associated support facilities and services, in Morobe.
The proposed project will be using the Block-Cave mining method which is an underground hard rock mining that allows for huge volume of ore body to be extracted efficiently while allowing the rock mass to collapse on its own creating subsidence zones.
The mine will be located beneath Mt Golpu, around 300 kilometers north-northwest of Port Moresby and 65km southwest of Lae.
Geographically, the project occupies a footprint that extends from the mine area to the coastal area with an infrastructure corridor that links the two areas.
The mine area encompassing the proposed mine and related ancillary facilities is located on the northern side of the Owen Stanley ranges, in the foothill of the Lower Watut River catchment.
Much of the mine area is steep, mountainous and heavily forested, transitioning to the board, flat to gently undulating Lower Watut River Valley to the west.
The infrastructure corridor follows the broad flat plains of the Lower Watut River and Markham River valleys and connects the mine area to the coastal area.
The coastal area encompasses both the proposed port facilities area at the Port of Lae where copper-gold and other ore concentrations will be exported.
The outfall area is where the mine tailings management will take place via the Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP).
The project is predicted to discharge 360 million tonnes of tailings over a period of 28 years.
The Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture has extensively investigated options for the tailings management for the life of the both on land and DSTP. These investigations have confirmed DSTP as the preferred method of tailings management based on considerations of long-term safety, engineering, environmental, social, cultural heritage and economic factors.
The total onshore area of land expected to be directly disturbed by the project is approximately 1,405 hectares.
Any large scale mining is a prescribed activity under the Environment Act, 2000 as Level 3 (Category 17-sub category 17.1) activity under the Environment (Prescribed Activities) Regulation 2002.
Level three activities are those that may cause serious environmental harm and therefore are subjected to the environmental impact assessment process.
The assessment process ensures that potential environmental issues are identified in the Environment Inception Report stage before they are further investigated in detail and appropriate management measures are formulated by the proponent during the preparation of the EIS.
The WGJV has met the requirements by submitting its EIR and EIS to CEPA for assessment and approvals.
The EIR and EIS have undergone the assessment process and submissions were made to the Environment Council on Aug 31.
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