• PNG Business News

Project assessment to continue

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Assessment on the Frieda River copper-gold project in West Sepik is likely to continue after the granting of the Wafi-Golpu special mining lease (SML), according to Mineral Resources Authority (MRA).

Managing director Jerry Garry said that Covid-19 had affected the assessment schedule for the Frieda River project.

Garry said the proposal for development and SML 9 application (amended) was lodged by the developer, PanAust Ltd, with the MRA in December 2018 for the development of the Frieda River project.

He said there were four components to the project:

  • FRIEDA River copper-gold project;

  • FRIEDA River hydroelectric project;

  • SEPIK infrastructure project; and,

  • SEPIK power grid project.

“The MRA has completed its preliminary assessment of the proposal for development, except for the Frieda River hydroelectric project, which includes the integrated storage dam facility,” Garry said.

“Given the magnitude and implications associated with potential failure, the State has assigned SMEC (Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation) Consultants to assess the integrity of the dam and also provide remedial measures in the event of failure or an alternate remedy.

“The SMEC commenced its preliminary independent assessment review but put on hold temporarily due the Covid-19 pandemic.

“MRA was advised that Cepa (Conservation and Environment Protection Authority) has completed its preliminary assessment of EIS (environmental impact statement).

“However, their public consultation/roadshow programme has not been completed along the Sepik River corridor due to stiff opposition from the River communities and staff safety concerns.”

PanAust has placed the project under care and maintenance with a reduction in their workforce.

Only a few employees were retained to take care of the project camp. Garry said PanAust was not actively pushing the project permitting. “Rather it will go along with the MRA and State’s permitting schedule,” he said.

“The SML landowners are supportive of the project and want the government to permit it. Similarly the Sandaun government is supporting the project while the East Sepik government support is contingent on review of the EIS and environment concerns.”

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