MAC: Mines and Communities

Frieda project to be largest open pit mine in the world

Published by MAC on 2010-01-31
Source: PNG Post Courier, PNG National

Frieda project to be largest open pit mine in the world

By Harlyne Joku, PNG Post Courier

26 January 2010

The Frieda copper gold project in the Sandaun Province is shaping up as one of the largest open-pit greenfield copper projects in the world, according to Highlands Pacific managing director John Gooding.

"As last year's kilometre long deep intersection showed, Frieda has the district and depth potential for many decades of production," he announced last Friday.

Frieda River copper gold project is 170 kilometres North West of Porgera gold mine. The partners are Highlands Pacific (16.95 per cent), Xstrata (76.30 per cent) and ONRD (6.75 per cent).

Highlands Pacific reported a significant resource upgrade for the Frieda project increasing the global resource base to more than 8.1 million tonnes of contained copper and 13.3 million ounces of contained gold.

A scoping study released in 2009 indicated a 40 million tonne plant with a 27-year mine life averaging 200,000 tonnes per annum of copper and 240,000 ounce per annum of gold. Xstrata Copper executive general manager project evaluation Peter Forrestal said the latest results confirmed Frieda River as potentially a very significant copper-gold producer in the Asia-Pacific region.

He said since assuming management control the project in January 2001, Xstrata Copper conducted an aggressive evaluation program, completing 65,000 metres of drilling as part of pre-feasibility studies.

He said Xstrata's current focus was to conduct various technical studies to support a pre-feasibility study which is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2010 and stakeholder engagement and environmental studies are also underway, Mr Forrestal said.

"We are committed to moving forward with the Frieda River project in genuine partnership with our joint venture partners Highlands Pacific Limited and OMRD, the project's host communities and district, provincial and national governments," he said.

No wastes into river: Xstrata


1 February 2010

SWISS mining giant Xstrata Plc says it will not dump mine waste into the Sepik River system from its Frieda River gold and copper mine when it begins production in 2017.
This announcement is a big shift away from the traditional riverine tailings and waste disposal systems by mining companies in PNG.

Ok Tedi, Porgera and Tolukuma dump treated tailings into river systems much to the dislike of impacted communities and environmental groups.

However, such dumping has been supported by the PNG Government that monitors and ensures WHO standards of toxicity, or otherwise, are maintained in river systems where the wastes are neutralised before disposal.

Being a Swiss company where its government and people are totally opposed to environmental degradation, Xstrata will not go down that path.

The Swiss and the Scandinavian countries like Finland, Norway and Sweden are so stringent on adhering to such principles and ethics that only last year, Norway expelled Barrick Gold from one of its large financial institutions because it operates the Porgera gold mine which dumps treated tailings into the Strickland River system.

Xstrata and junior partner Highlands Gold Ltd last week announced a big increase in their gold and copper deposits at Frieda River licence in Sandaun province.

They said a pre-feasibility study is expected to be completed by the third quarter of this year with construction to begin in 2012 and production in 2017.

This is good news for the 3,500 Ok Tedi employees who could be easily absorbed into Frieda when the Mt Fubilan operation just south of Frieda closes in 2013, if it's not extended to 2020.

Frieda's general manager Dugie Wilson told a Radio Australia (ABC) programme that Frieda's expected mine life is 20 years and will almost double the amount of ore intake in the processing mills.

Ok Tedi crushes 23 million tonnes of ore annually while Frieda will process 40 million tonnes.

Mr Wilson said that makes Frieda River project one of the top 10 greenfield mines in the world.

"We have done a lot of additional drilling which has then not only lifted the size of the resource, but I have confidence in how the copper mineralisation is actually distributed," he said.

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