Canadian mineral explorer Freeport Resources has secured approval to renew its Yandera copper project’s exploration licence 1335 from Papua New Guinea’s Mining Resource Authority.

The licence renewal was completed on 19 November 2023. EL 1335 covers a tenement with an area comprising 245.5km² under the Yandera copper project.

Since 2005, Freeport has spent nearly $200m (C$271.3m) in exploration and development on the licence.

The work completed and studies funded cover around 154,600m of exploration drilling, the bulk of which was focused on the Yandera Central deposit.

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By GlobalData

Other activities included scoping, engineering and environmental studies, a pre-feasibility study and studies related to infrastructure.

With the renewal, Freeport can begin work on a DFS so that it can move forward with the FID for the Yandera project. 

Simultaneous with the DFS programme, the company will also expedite ongoing talks with key international strategic investors and prospective partners for the project’s development. 

The Yandera project, said to be of “strategic national interest” to Papua New Guinea, lies in the country’s Orogenic Belt.

This Belt is said to have the same geological arc as some of the largest gold and copper deposits such as Grasberg, Frieda River, Porgera, Lihir, Wafi-Golpu and Kainantu.

A preliminary feasibility study in 2017 estimated the measured and indicated resources of the project to be 728 million tonnes at a grading of 0.39% of copper equivalent.

It is estimated to produce 33 million tonnes of ore annually and up to 540 million tonnes over a more than 20-year life of mine.

As demand for copper is expected to surge, driven by global energy transition, it is projected that copper supply could enter a deficit position by 2025.

Freeport Resources operations senior vice-president Nathan Chutas said: “The renewal Yandera Copper Project’s Exploration Licence demonstrates the commitment of the Government of PNG [Papua New Guinea] to build strong, working relationships with mineral exploration and development companies such as Freeport Resources, to drive economic growth through the responsible development of Papua New Guinea’s vast natural resources.

“This is a major milestone for the company. More than $200m has been expended on the project since 2005, culminating in a comprehensive 2017 pre-feasibility study delineating one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper resources. With the licence renewal now in hand, we are anxious to commence work on the definitive feasibility study and accelerate ongoing discussions with potential strategic partners for development of the mine.”