China’s $3.6 Billion PNG Copper Mine Faces 2-Year Approval Wait – by David Stringer(Bloomberg News – May 19, 2016)

China-owned PanAust Ltd. estimates it may take as long as two years to win approvals for its expanded $3.6 billion copper project in Papua New Guinea as bigger rivals forecast a deficit of the metal by the decade’s end.

A revised development plan for the Frieda River project by state-owned Guangdong Rising Assets Management Co.’s Australian unit more than doubled an earlier cost estimate following a better understanding of the earthworks required, PanAust General Manager of Corporate Development Joe Walsh said Thursday in a phone interview.

The new study also raised forecasts for copper output about 40 percent to 175,000 metric tons a year.“Commodity prices are, in our view, going through a cyclical low and we do envisage that in the fullness of time we will see prices recover,” Walsh said.

“The focus over the next year or two, when we would envisage that we would be largely in an approvals process, is to look at opportunities to improve the fundamentals of the project, with a particular focus on capital and infrastructure.”

China is stepping up a hunt to secure more supplies of copper through acquisitions and mine projects to prepare for the forecast long-term demand growth. A copper deficit is likely to develop toward the end of the decade, BHP Billiton Ltd. said in February, as output is constrained at existing mines on lower grades.

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