Newcrest to expand Lihir for less
Esmarie Swanepoel | Mining Weekly | 15.02.2016
Australian gold producer Newcrest Mining on Monday reported that its board had approved the Lihir pit optimisation feasibility study, after a prefeasibility study (PFS) into a new plan proved viable.
The purpose of the new PFS was to optimise the integrated life-of-mine plan for the Lihir operation, in Papua New Guinea, including different mine sequencing and ore scheduling options, the most appropriate mining methods and civil engineering options.
The PFS estimated a forecast reduction in the estimated capital expenditure (capex) requirement for the seepage barrier to $125-million compared with the $1.29-billion price tag in a 2013 PFS, which included a cofferdam.
The mine plan now being evaluated under the feasibility study was based on three main stages, the first of which would occur from 2017 to 2021, and would include mining the Minifie and Lienetz deposits, using medium-trade stockpiles and prestrip work for successive cut backs.
Stage 2 would occur between 2022 and 2026, and would include mining at the Lienetz and Kapit deposits, medium- and low-grade stockpiles and prestrip for successive cutbacks.
Stage 3, which would occur between 2027 and 2031, would see mining continue at Lienetz and Kapit, as well as the accumulation of low-grade ore stockpiles. However, the average feed grade was expected to increase in this phase, owing to access to the higher grade Kapit ore.
“This project is a testament to the team challenging the existing thinking and developing a better solution. With the new operation strategy comes the potential for new, more cost-effective opportunities for accessing the Kapit orebody,” commented CEO Sandeep Biswas.
He added that a potential capital saving of $1-billion for the future seepage barrier was a great outcome for the Lihir operation and for Newcrest shareholders.