A PRE-feasibility study for the massive Frieda River copper and gold project on the border of East and West Sepik shows that it will take an investment of US$5.3 billion to get the project up and running, Radio Australia reported yesterday.
It said the Swiss mining giant Xstrata Copper (73.7% owner), was fast-tracking Frieda River.
The 1,500-page pre-feasibility study, which was completed last month, said the project would produce 264,000 tonnes of copper and 379,000 ounces of gold a year.
A mine life of at least 20 years is expected, with low operating costs.
Radio Australia quoted John Gooding, the managing director of junior partner Highlands Pacific Ltd (18.18%), as saying that placed Frieda River in the top 15 copper mines in the world.
He said that a total investment of US$5.3 billion would be needed, US$803 million of which would be used to build a hydro-electricity plant.
Mine tailings and waste rock would be placed into a specially-built reservoir rather than dump it into the sensitive Sepik River system.
A full feasibility study is due in January 2012.
Last month, Highlands Pacific Ltd announced the pre-feasibility study had been completed and notified HPL that documentation would be available by this month. To retain project equity, Xstrata was required to deliver a feasibility study by January 2012.
Xstrata had 11 drill rigs operating on site in preparation for progress into the feasibility phase.