Harmony, Newcrest’s Wafi-Golpu back on track after PNG court dismisses stay order

Wafi Golpu

PLANS by a joint venture consisting of Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining to build the Wafi-Golpu gold mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are back on track after the country’s national court dismissed a stay order.

The stay order had been requested by the governor of Morobe province who claimed he should have been consulted regarding a memorandum of understanding (MoU) setting out the terms on which the mine would be built.

This is according to Harmony Gold CEO, Peter Steenkamp, who said today at the firm’s interim results presentation that the joint venture was not obligated to win the approval of the governor for the project.

But the government also threw a stick in the spokes of the project by asking for a 40% stake in the project when the administration under former president, Peter O’Neill, had not committed to a specific stake in the project at all. James Marape succeeded O’Neill, in May.

The government subsequently withdrew its support for the MoU, but today had recommitted to discussions, said Steenkamp.

“Next week we are keen to start discussions with the government on taking Wafi-Golpu forward,” said Steenkamp. “We have a huge amount of urgency to permit this transaction while the PNG government is under pressure to deliver the projects. So let’s wait and see, but we believe there is now some traction.”

If developed into a mine, Wafi-Golpu would deliver average annual gold production of about 266,000 ounces, but politics and red-tape has delayed the project.