The National | May 2nd, 2016
LIHIR gold mine in New Ireland has a potential mine life of more than 30 years based on current gold reserves, mine general manager Craig Jetson says.
He told a recent stakeholders meeting that an optimisation plan known as the “Lihir Pit Optimisation Plan” would set the pace of the mine’s operations into the future.
An explanatory note from Lihir owner Newcrest to The National said the optimisation plan was being undertaken to optimise the integrated life of mine plan for Lihir, including seepage barrier options.
“It is effectively looking at different mine sequencing and ore scheduling options, the most appropriate mining methods and civil engineering options to help Newcrest decide the best way to expand Lihir’s open pit and access additional ore sources,” the company said.
“One of the key challenges is how to stop the water in Luis Harbour from entering the open pit as the expanded pit gets closer to the harbour edge, hence the references to a seepage barrier.”
The project had been completed to prefeasibility study stage and in February this year, Newcrest approved the project to progress to feasibility study stage. Highlights from prefeasibility study included:
- Forecast reduction in estimated capital expenditure requirement for the seepage barrier to US$215 million (K673 million), compared to the US$1.29 billion (K4.04 billion) in 2013 prefeasibility study which included a cofferdam;
- lateral mine sequence development affirmed; and,
- near shore cut-off wall and harbour infill replacing previously proposed cofferdam.
As part of the feasibility study, Newcrest would work with all relevant government agencies and communities to identify any approvals and consents necessary to implement the proposed mine plan.
Craig revealed expansion plans to build an inner harbour wall that is expected to start late this year at an estimated cost of K1 – K1.5 billion.
He said completion of the project would set up mining for next 30 years.
“That’s a bright future for the Lihirian people and Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“It is great to work with an asset of much inherent value such as Lihir.”