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Problems with locals won’t delay PNG project - Harmony


Publication: Mining Weekly
Journalist: Matthew Hill

World number-five gold producer Harmony Gold said on Monday that problems with locals at its Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) would not delay its ramp up, and that the company hoped to resolve the issue “in the next day or two”.

Spokesperson Amelia Soares said that the situation had stabilised, and that the unrest had not affect its Wafi-Golpu project, where it is conducting a prefeasibility study to build a mine.

“We are still on target for production at Hidden Valley for March 2009,” she said in a telephone interview, adding that the mine’s construction should begin again over the next couple of days.

A local newspaper reported on Monday that Harmony had ceased operations at its PNG operations after a dispute with landowners.

Soares asserted that the problem was not with landowners, but with local residents getting “involved” with the company’s workforce.

“We actually have a very good relationship with the landowners,” she told Mining Weekly Online.

The Post Courier reported that “police were rushed in to protect company assets” after disputes after the past couple of weeks.

Australia’s biggest gold producer, Newcrest Mining, announced on April 22 that it would earn a 50% stake in Harmony’s PNG gold and copper assets by spending up to $525-million.

The two would jointly operate the assets.

Newcrest would contribute its capital in two stages, the first being $180-million to earn 30% in Harmony’s PNG assets and a $45-million reimbursement to the South African miner for project expenditure.

The other instalment would be a farm-in commitment to earn the remaining 20% for some $300-million, to fund project expenditure at Hidden Valley. This would bring the project into production.

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