By Delly Bagu – EM TV, Port Moresby
The Frieda River Copper-Gold Project, in the West Sepik Province, has experienced progress since the Australian miner, PanAust Limited, acquired a majority interest in the project in August last year, 2014.
A cocktail function was held on Thursday evening, February 6 2015, to mark PanAust’s entry in Papua New Guinea, through the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project.
PanAust is a copper and gold producer in Southeast Asia, and has a portfolio of organic growth projects in Laos, Chile and now in Papua New Guinea.
Treasury Minister and Chairman of the Ministerial Economic Committee, Patrick Pruaitch, said there is a greater expectation by the government towards its newest partner.
PanAust Limited owns 80 per cent of the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project, with Highlands Pacific holding the remaining 20 per cent. Upon grant of a Special Mining Lease the Government of PNG has a right to acquire, at cost, up to a 30 per cent interest in the Frieda River Project.
“The government of our country, including the impacted provinces of East and West Sepik are hopeful that PanAust will bring the lessons and experiences gained from its projects to inform that its delivery and operation of Frieda River Project.
“At the same time, the Government will use its recent experiences including the delivery of the PNG LNG Project to support the transaction of the Frieda River Project,” Mr Pruaitch said.
Treasurer Pruaitch said the government is clear about its obligations to its people, and in particular the isolated communities along the Frieda and Nena Rivers. He said the government will do all it can to facilitate the development of this untapped resource for the benefit of PanAust, Highlands Pacific and the people of PNG.
Frieda River is one of the largest known undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world, and offers PanAust excellent potential for the establishment of a long-life operation.
PanAust Managing Director, Dr Fred Hess, is currently in PNG with the company’s Board of Directors, to inspect the Frieda River Project site, talk to local landowners and village representatives,and to meet senior government ministers and officials.
“When it comes to mining investments, stability is one of those things that is very important for investors to see. One of the great things we see in PNG, notwithstanding the changes at the political level; at a policy level it has largely been very conducive to mining. I think is it very important in moving forward in terms of policy that that emphasis on stability for investors and promoting mining stays with us in the new legislation,” Dr. Hess said.
“When we saw Frieda for the first time we saw not challenges so much, but things that looked similar to what we have done before. So I suppose, when we looked at Frieda, we came with a certain amount of confidence that we could do something with this project, ” Dr Hess added.
A geotechnical and hydrogeological drill program is underway as part of PanAust’s feasibility study for the project. The feasibility study is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
Furthermore, work on an ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ is underway to ensure environmental impacts are clearly understood, appropriately managed, and minimized.