Newcrest, Harmony set to build one of the world's lowest-cost gold mines

Newcrest, Harmony set build one of the world's lowest-cost gold mines

Wafi-Golpu site, aerial. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Australia's Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) and South Africa’s Harmony Gold (JSE:HAR) (NYSE:HMY) unveiled Monday plans to build one of the world's lowest-cost gold mines in Papua New Guinea for $2.5 billion less than previously budgeted.

The gold miners expect to do so under a smaller, revised plan that will see the development of their massive Wafi-Golpu gold and copper deposit — which each own 50% of—divided into two stages.

In the first phase, the companies will target the higher value part of the ore body, which is said to contain 20-million ounces of gold and 9.4-million tons of copper. This will require an initial capital spending cost of $2.3 billion, according to the statement, delivering profitable mine.

The rewards are well worth it, the updated Golpu pre-feasibility study, published Monday, suggests. In its initial stage the mine could generate as much as 320,000 ounces of gold and 150,000 tonnes of copper a year, beginning in 2020.

In a presentation to investors Monday, Harmony’s chief executive officer Graham Briggs said that, when factoring in copper sales and costs, each ounce of gold will earn $2,900, compared with a spot price of $1,213.

“The updated prefeasibility study supports our view that Golpu is a spectacular ore body with a large copper component, affordable and mineable,” he added in a separate statement.

Newcrest, Harmony set build one of the world's lowest-cost gold mines

Project location. (Courtesy of Newcrest Mining)

The first stage of Golpu, which sees Harmony and Newcrest mining 40 percent of the project’s reserves, has a net present value of $1.1 billion.

The approach compares to the previous, more expensive development (an more ambitious) plan discussed in 2012, which would have cost $4.8 billion to build and delivered as much as 400,000 ounces of gold annually and 250,000 tonnes of copper.

The estimated capital expenditure over the life of the mine is now expected to be $3.1 billion.

The Papua New Guinea government has the right to buy up to a 30% stake in the project at any time up to the date of granting the mining lease, at a price equal to the sunk costs at the date of acquisition.

Newcrest, Harmony set build one of the world's lowest-cost gold mines

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy of Newcrest Mining)