Feb 15, 2010

Barrick to begin field operations

AS part of the preparations for the upcoming exploration programmes on the Coppermoly Nakru and Simuku projects in West New Britain province, Barrick (PNG) Exploration Ltd (Barrick) have undertaken on-site inspections.

They have completed a formal risk assessment for camp re-construction, geological mapping and geochemical sampling. Preparations have also begun for the upgrade of track access to the Nakru project site.

Barrick can earn a 72 percent of Coppermoly's three existing projects by spending A$20 million (K42 million) within eight years. They are currently establishing their own office, staff and communications for their base of operations in Kimbe, the capital of West New Britain Island province. Coppermoly will continue to assist until March.

The diamond drilling programme at Nakru is expected to begin early in the second quarter of 2010 and will test depth extents of surface mineralisation and the copper related geophysical Induced Polarisation targets. It is anticipated that a broader exploration programme will include extensive surface sampling beneath ash cover, mapping and diamond drilling programmes both at Nakru and Simuku.

Barrick is reviewing the existing Nakru drill core and taking representative samples for petro graphic and petro physical studies to help understand the mineralisation and its relationship with geophysical anomalies. Drill hole samples are being reassayed for a broader suite of elements and historical geological, geochemical and geophysical data are being compiled to assist interpretation and definition of mineralisation potential in the broader area.

Coppermoly is currently reviewing other copper and gold prospects in Papua New Guinea for possible acquisition.

BSP Launches New ATM at NASFUND Building

BSP, the Nation's largest Bank and leading bank in the Pacific has launched a new ATM at the Nasfund Building in Boroko in the NCD.

The installation of the new ATM is intended to meet local area demand for convenient ATM services. Hundreds of people visit this location everyday and having an ATM there will not only help the customers around that area but those who regularly wait for transport to Tubuserea, Gaire and Barakau.

The official launch took place at 2pm Wednesday 10th February and was attended by the CEO and Managing Director of BSP Mr. Ian Clyne, along with Mr. Ian Tarutia Joint CEO of Nasfund.

BSP launched the new PNG Kundu design ATMs in June last year. Screens offer both Pidgin and English language options and are also able to produce mini statements for BSP customers.

The launch of the new BSP ATM now increases BSP ATMs to over 150 ATMs throughout PNG. This is the largest network in the country, and is further supported by more than 2,200 EFTPOS devices.

The new BSP ATMs and EFTPOS devices are also heading to other areas of our South Pacific branches, with 42 ATMs and EFTPOS devices already installed in Fiji. A further 40 ATMs are already on their way to Fiji with BSP's recent acquisition of the Colonial National Bank there. Installation of ATMs and EFTPOS devices are also underway at BSP in the Solomon Islands.

Highlands Pacific denies media reports


RAMU NI-CO’s (MCC) major joint venture partner, Highlands Pacific Limited and State-owned Mineral Resources Development Corporation (MRDC) have denied reports in one of the dailies pertaining to the exact net cost of the Ramu project.

In a joint statement e-mailed to Sunday Chronicle on Friday said the article and another almost identical which appeared in the Post Courier on Friday January 29th, titled “Ramu Mine worth K92b” are misleading.

“Unfortunately the articles contained a number of errors that have completely misrepresented the net worth of the project,” Managing Director of Highlands Pacific, John Gooding said.

He explained that the figures attempted to quantify the potential value of the material in the ground (using erroneous and very optimistic assumptions) and made no attempt to quantify the operating costs or the metallurgical recoveries.

“On the basis of the assumptions used by the writers it could be suggested that all of PNG fisherman have trillions of kina worth of fish based on all the sea life that may swim in and out of PNG’s territorial waters over the next 30 years.

“It is well known in the industry that laterite plants are costly to build and must be managed well to make profits. The closure of Ravensthorpe and Cawse laterite operations in Western Australia are examples of recent failures in this industry sector. Indeed BHP Billiton spent US$2.8 billion to construct the Ravensthorpe plant only to close it eight months after opening and then recently to sell it for US$340 million.”

Mr Gooding noted that while it is true that MCC (the majority stakeholder) has managed to contain the construction costs of US$1.5 billion (K4 billion) within budget and at a figure significantly lower than other equivalent plants, the operating costs still remain and will limit the net returns from the project.

He added that these operating costs include reagent costs (e.g. sulphur), power generation fuel, transport, mining, maintenance, compliance, labour, shipping, marketing, management, royalty and refinery.

“Furthermore, it needs to be recognized that metal prices fluctuate widely between highs and lows. Any project of this size needs to be mindful of the periods of low metal prizes and its ability to repay outstanding loans during these periods. In addition to this risk, allowance needs to be made for increases in operating costs (e.g. fuel and sulphur), which further eat away at the net returns.”   

Promote locally produced honey: Basil


HONEY production in the country is seen as a major economic activity within the agriculture sector and should be enhanced and promoted at the rural level.

Recent research has revealed that Papua New Guinea produces an estimated 40 tons annually valued at K400,000.00 which is consumed annually while PNG consumption rate is estimated at 200 tons or K2 million annually which is heavily subsidised by imports mainly from Australia.

Bulolo MP Sam Basil outlined this in a recent honey harvest in his electorate saying this is the way forward for the country's local entrepreneurs and farmers to consider investing in local honey production to gain high returns.
"The honey market can be captured by promoting locally produced honey in the rural areas or districts in PNG," Mr Basil said.
The MP together with Eastern Highlands Provincial Bee Keeping Coordinator, Tella Loie witnessed the first harvest from the bee hives project.

The project is funded under the local Mp's District Service Improvement Project (DSIP) and the hives have matured for harvest in just four months from being established which has exited Mr Loie and his Eastern Highlands team.

Mrs Sally Sonoling the interim president of Bulolo Honey Mamas Association and three of her colleagues, Ms Yonga Heva of Garaina, Waria LLG, Labu Archie of Mumeng LLG and Elsi Willie of Wabu Urban LLG has accompanied Mr Loie and have conducted many harvesting and extraction recently.

The association said one of the farmers Steven Bani of Lagis Village in Buang LLG has brought his 8 frames with contents of approximately 16 kilograms of honey and earned K160.00. This has brought some good news to the bee team that Mr Bani's village has experienced increasing in the productions of coffees beans, avacado, oranges and 'laulau' fruits which is due to the presence of honey bee and its pollinating activities.

Mr Loie has estimated that by Tuesday the team would harvest a total of 300kg or K3000.00 worth which would be invested back into the farmers' hands.

MP Basil will later in March session of parliament plans to present each jar of 250g, 500g and a 2kg respectively to the Prime Minister, Agriculture Minister, Mps and the DAL officials respectively.

He said while presenting the results, will urge the other Mps to invest into honey production as PNG has wasted its flora and fauna, which could be useful for the honey industry that also has some other indirect benefits such as employment, food security, education and income generation.

PPL and HG power sign contract

STATE-OWNED entity PNG Power Ltd and HG Power Transmission Ltd have signed a contract to begin the construction of an optic fiber network on PNG Power's power line network and tower infrastructure.

PNG Power CEO Tony Koiri and HG Power Business Development Manager, Rama Junan signed the documents at PNG Power's Port Moresby headquarter at Hohola.

Mr Koiri said he was pleased that HG Power were contracted to develop the project and added that he had a lot of confidence in the project being completed on time.

Mr Junan said it was their second project in PNG and he assured PPL that the project would begin and finish on time with all quality and safety requirements met.

HG Power with PPL's supervision will construct, test and commission the Optical Ground Wire (OPGW), ADSS and APPROACH cables on PPL's power network that will link Madang and Lae through Walium, Gusap, Yonki, Mutzing and Erap.

Once installed, the optic fibre cables on PPL's transmission and distribution infrastructure will allow Telikom to use the technology for telecommunication purposes.

PPL and Telikom had signed an MOA on January 11 this year that allowed Telikom use of PPL's infrastructure for telecommunication.