Johannesburg-based Harmony and Australia’s Newcrest, two global Tier I gold stocks, have announced a significant upgrade to their Wafi-Golpu 50:50 joint venture in Papua New Guinea. In the words of Newcrest, following “further significant drilling results, the exploration target for Wafi-Golpu joint venture has been upgraded” from 20m to 30m ounces of gold, and to boot, the copper target has been hoisted from 4m to 8m tonnes.

There may be competing claims, but this now seems that it could become the virgin gold strike of the century. To put some vague kind of valuation on the event, Vancouver-based Goldcorp in September bid CAD 3.6bn for Andean, for its Argentina Cerro Negro gold project, which hosts 2.5m ounces of gold and 23.6m ounces of silver. Compare this with Harmony, which has a current market value of USD 4.7bn, with production this year (mainly from South Africa) to be in the order of 1.5m ounces.

Some of the bigger gold hits this decade include AngloGold Ashanti La Colosa discovery in Colombia, which holds more than 10m ounces of gold; the Angostura discovery, also in Colombia, in the hands of Toronto-listed Greystar (also more than 10m ounces of gold), and Australia- and London-listed Centamin Egypt‘s Sukari Hill (around 10m ounces), now in production.

Golpu is situated within the prolific Morobe property, of more than 3,000 square kilometers, in PNG. The highly prospective property already hosts the Hidden Valley mine (part of the Harmony-Newcrest JV), which started building up production in December 2009, and which, at full bore, is set to produce (on a 100% basis) 255,000 ounces of gold and 4m ounces of silver a year. Gold resources at Hidden Valley are around 5.4m ounces; the mine cost a relatively modest USD 198m to build.

At Wafi, in the vicinity of Golpu, more than 6m ounces of gold have been separately outlined, and drilling continues. Further to the north west in PNG, Harmony holds 100% of the Mount Hagen project, and 100% of the Amanab project. Golpu alone is now on a scale similar to other major copper-gold projects like OK Tedi and the historic mine in Bougainville.

Harmony today announced that the Wafi-Golpu concept study was completed during August 2010. The Harmony-Newcrest joint venture study team is targeting completion of a pre-feasibility study towards the end of 2011 or early 2012. The pre-feasibility study costs, which includes the construction of a new road, the establishment of a camp and associated infrastructure and the commencement of underground exploration access (decline shaft) is estimated to be USD 150m.

Tier I gold diggers

 

 

 

 

Stock

From

From

Value

 

price

high*

low*

USD bn

Agnico-Eagle

USD 69.44

-7.1%

39.9%

11.627

Goldcorp

USD 41.87

-11.7%

27.5%

30.825

Polyus

USD 50.50

-15.0%

24.7%

9.627

Harmony

ZAR 76.64

-12.3%

13.2%

4.724

Lihir

Now at Newcrest

 

 

 

AngloGold Ashanti

USD 45.51

-5.5%

33.4%

17.338

Zijin

CNY 10.01

-13.0%

166.2%

15.839

Barrick

USD 45.45

-8.5%

35.1%

44.799

Newcrest

AUD 40.00

-6.5%

34.5%

29.983

Gold Fields

ZAR 105.10

-9.8%

26.5%

10.665

Kinross

USD 17.52

-22.0%

18.1%

19.814

Newmont

USD 59.22

-9.6%

42.9%

28.704

Buenaventura

USD 49.43

-5.3%

72.9%

13.588

Freeport-McMoRan

USD 96.43

-3.9%

70.0%

45.364

[[SPDR Gold Shares ETF]]

USD 129.47

-4.0%

28.6%

55.310

Tier I averages/total

-9.3%

43.2%

282.897

Weighted averages

 

-9.4%

42.4%

 

* 12-month Source: market data; table crunched by Barry Sergeant