SYDNEY – After nearly 50 years on the drawing board, the latest backers of Papua New Guinea’s $3.6 billion Frieda River copper project say the time may finally be right for the giant mine – even if some hurdles remain.
Regarded as one of world’s largest untapped copper-gold resources, the deposit has sat dormant as successive owners, including some of the world’s biggest mining houses, proved unwilling or unable to spend the billions of dollars needed to construct a mine in remote jungle far from the country’s coast.
Current owner PanAust Ltd, a former listed Australian miner now a unit of China’s Guangdong Rising Assets Management (GRAM) [GDRAM.UL], has submitted an application for a special mining license to the PNG government for an initial $3.6 billion project.
PanAust managing Director Fred Hess points to the success of ExxonMobil’s $19 billion liquefied natural gas plant, which has been running for two years in a country known for its difficult terrain, lack of infrastructure and sometimes fractious landowners.
“It gives the backers of Frieda River the confidence that we can get all of this together and finally make it a reality,” Hess told Reuters at a mining conference on investment in the Pacific country. Bankers, too, are penciling in Frieda River as one of a number of projects likely to be needing financing.
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