Harmony Gold Mining upgraded the resource estimate for its Wafi-Golpu project in Papua New Guinea on Wednesday increasing it by 57% to over 1 billion metric tons, making it one of the highest grade copper-gold porphyry systems in South East Asia.
CEO Graham Briggs said it was a "game-changing asset" for the company and the latest drilling results bring the Wafi-Golpu deposits within sight of Freeport-McMoran’s Grasberg mine across the border in West Papua, Indonesia, which was recently hit by strikes.
Harmony said the Wafi-Golpu Resource statement confirms its long held belief that Golpu is truly a world-class discovery. On a 100% basis, Golpu alone now hosts a Resource of 869Mt, containing 19.3Moz of gold and 9.0 million tonnes (Mt) of copper (62Moz on a gold equivalent basis). This represents a significant year-onyear increase, with an additional 368Mt (73% increase), comprising 4.2Mt copper (88% increase) and 10.5Moz of gold (119% increase). The deposit has grown to the north and at depth, and the grade has also increased.
In June MINING.com reported the takeover rumour mill was working overtime as speculation about the size of Harmony Gold’s Wafi-Golpu deposit increased:
Harmony has already been forced to share the planet’s potentially third largest gold and copper mine with Australia’s Newcrest Mining, selling 50% of the project for $525m three years ago.
Now, as the value of Wafi-Golpu climbs – Deutsche Bank recently put it at $9.9bn – and predictions of development cost reach $5bn, other suitors may be lining up for the assets. M&A activity in the gold sector is at a 10-year high and top takeover candidates are Harmony’s South African peer Gold Fields, Canada’s Barrick Gold, Newmont Mining and partner Newcrest itself.