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    Wafi Golpu copper-gold deposits now a billion tonne resource - Harmony
    Harmony Gold has reported a huge increase in the Wafi Golpu copper-gold resource in PNG where it is in a jv with Newcrest with a big tonnage increase and higher grades as drilling continues,

    Author: Lawrence Williams
    Posted: Wednesday , 20 Jul 2011
    LONDON -

    In announcing his company's latest statement of mineral reserves and resources, Harmony Gold CEO, Graham Briggs, has reported a further huge 57% expansion of the resource for the Wafi Golpu jv with Newcrest in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The latest drilling has expanded the resource to an estimated 1 billion tonnes plus making it "one of the highest grade copper-gold porphyry systems in South East Asia". This is a very significant claim given the region also plays host to such major present and past operations as Freeport's Grasberg, Rio Tinto's old Bougainville mine and Ok Tedi - formerly owned by BHP Billiton. Briggs believes its Wafi Golpu stake is a "game changing" asset for Harmony.

    The Wafi-Golpu Resource statement confirms the company's long held belief that the Golpu section alone is truly a world-class discovery says Harmony. On a 100% basis, the Golpu deposit is now estimated to host an 869 million tonne resource containing 19.3 million ounces of gold and 9.0 million tonnes of copper (62 million ounces on a gold equivalent1 basis as gold miners tend to report these days). Exploration drilling has seen the deposit expanding to the north and at depth, and the grade has also increased despite a lower cut-off grade of 0.2% copper. The Resource remains open at depth and to the north, with extension and infill drilling continuing which suggests further resource size increases ahead. Briggs noted, "The Golpu deposit benchmarks as one of the highest grade copper-gold deposits in South East Asia, and there is potential to improve this further. The ultimate size of the system, including the gold mineralisation, is yet to be realised, but significant potential remains for additional growth in the district or as additional mineralisation centres aligned along the Wafi transfer structure are defined. We are increasing the drill fleet from 5 to 8 rigs over the coming months to realise this potential".

    Harmony reckons the Golpu copper-gold deposit is a nested porphyry system that comprises at least three separate mineralised intrusions. Potential for additional mineralised intrusives along strike from Golpu, at Nambonga, and for additional feeder zones around the margins and at depth below the diatreme is high, with the area hugely prospective and underexplored. Meanwhile the Wafi epithermal gold system is also expanding with new zones of gold mineralisation discovered in areas never drill tested previously. Taking Wafi into account the total SWafi Golpu resource is put at 1.012 billion tonnes grading .82 g/t gold and .89% copper for a contained 26.6 million ounces of gold and 9 million tonnes of copper (total gold equivalent of 70 million ounces).

    Harmony also has a number of other regional exploration projects under way which are considered highly prospective and also have the potential of being very large indeed.

    The Wafi Golpu deposit runs quite deep so would need to be mined by underground means with probably a big open pit section too down to the sensible depths for open pit mining. At the moment the resource is estimated down to a depth of 1,700m and grades appear to be increasing with depth if one looks at the latest resource estimate in comparison with a year ago

    While the deposit looks like ranking as one of the world's highest grade copper-gold porphyries, if not yet as big as Grasberg and Oyu Tolgoi there is a long way to go yet before it can be brought into production. Harmony notes that Wafi-Golpu has grown into a tier one asset in its own right, with several other first class gold and copper-gold targets being developed along strike on the Wafi Transfer structure. Even so, PNG has not always been the easiest place to work for mine developers with the local population sometimes restive and government and national institutions have a sorry record on corruption so there could yet be pitfalls along the route to fruition.

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