Ok Tedi Mine is in the process of undertaking a feasibility study to extend mine life as an alternative to closure, The National reports.
This was confirmed by Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) general manager – government and external relations, Musje Werror, at a mining and petroleum workshop for PNG media at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby last Friday.
The study is expected to be completed by next month (June) with parliament to enact what is known as the 10thSupplementary Agreement (10SA) in 2013 to extend mine life.
OTML is planning for an orderly closure of the current mine in 2013, however, management considers this to be an opportunity to extend mine life by another seven years from 2015 to 2022 by a combination of two underground mines and one open pit operation.
Any decision to extend the closure of Ok Tedi to 2022 requires the approval of the state and the informed consent of the communities that are impacted by the existence of the mine.
This message is now being disseminated to local communities from the community mine continuation agreement (CMCA) regions, state authorities as well as political leaders of the province.
OTML’s workforce and other stakeholders are also being kept informed of developments relating to possible extension of mine life.
Werror said the goal of mine life extension (MLE) was “to provide detailed information to the mine-affected communities so that they can make an informed decision to either support mine life extension or insist on its closure”.
OTML is now carrying out the massive task of MLE consultation and consent in nine CMCA regions, 156 villages, over 100,000 people and covering 800km of Western province.
The three-tier consultation structure involves villages, regions and delegates with external facilitators Tanorama, independent observers, and an independent reviewer.
OTML says on its website that mine life extension will produce an estimated 90 million tonnes of ore containing close to 700,000 tonnes of copper and 2.3 million ounces of gold over the extension period.
“The mine will be a lot smaller in size to the current operations,” it says,
“Ok Tedi’s current annual copper and gold production is 160,000 tonnes and 540,000 ounces gold respectively.
“The most significant impact will be the requirement for disposal of an estimated 280 million tonnes of waste rock and tailing from open cut mining and mill processing.”