Geopacific Resources Ltd (ASX: GPR) has completed significant milestones associated with progressing the historic Woodlark Gold Project into production on the remote Woodlark Island in Papua New Guinea.
Managing Director, Ron Heeks, said that following the mobilisation to site of equipment, personnel and supplies in December, Geopacific have made substantiative inroads towards preparing the island for the construction of a 2.4Mtpa process plant and relocating a small village currently located on the Mining Lease.
Mr Heeks said this progress confirms the capability of the existing Board and Senior Management team to operate successfully in Papua New Guinea, and completes significant milestones associated with progressing the Woodlark Gold Project.
He added that the success of the current activities on site will strengthen the ability of Geopacific to secure appropriate debt funding on commercially viable terms.
“Meeting several critical milestones in a short time frame has proven to be a strong catalyst to advance discussions with potential debt providers,” Mr Heeks said.
“The success of the Civil Works campaign currently underway at the Woodlark Gold Project has Geopacific well placed to progress towards a project funding solution. The current work program continues to demonstrate the benefits of operating on Woodlark Island”
Mr Heeks said Geopacific is currently in advanced discussions with potential debt providers.
“Whilst completion of financing will be subject to lender due diligence, formal documentation and credit approval, recent progress in relation to the Civil Works campaign currently being undertaken on the Woodlark Gold Project, combined with a successful due diligence process completed in Q3 2019 has Geopacific well placed to progress towards a project funding solution,” he said.
In late 2019, Independent Technical Expert’s (ITE) reports were completed on behalf of potential financiers. The ITE reports were distributed to the key debt advisors and will allow the Company to advance towards a project funding solution. The scope for the ITE review and final reports included technical aspects such as Geology and Mineral Resources, Metallurgy and Processing, Infrastructure, Logistics, and Environmental and Social.
Mr Heeks said that in recent months the company has successfully raised A$40 million in new equity, largely from existing shareholders.
To date, three barges have been deployed to site with the necessary machinery, fuel and supplies to commence works. Lae port supports the majority of the large scale gold and copper operations in Papua New Guinea, and is a modern and well equipped service town and port.
The current wharf facilities at Woodlark Island are more than sufficient to accept equipment for the operation but are located 15 km from the process plant site and require vehicle movements through populated areas. For these reasons a new facility is being constructed on the other side of Kwaipan Bay, five kilometres from the process plant and away from populated areas.
Personnel are transported to site on a 36 seat Dash 8 with PNG Air on charter flights departing from Lae or Port Moresby.
An important part of the Woodlark Gold Project is the relocation of the relatively small Kulumadau village.
In December 2019, a contract was signed with Rhodes Projects, a project manager located in Papua New Guinea. Rhodes are currently on site and providing materials and skilled supervisors to oversee a local team who are building the necessary housing and infrastructure required to enable the relocation of the existing Kulumadau village.
Some 200 houses, churches, stores, schools and other buildings will be constructed.