Newcrest Mining and its joint venture partner Harmony Gold have signed a framework memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to advance the development of the Wafi-Golpu copper-gold project in the country.

Newcrest and Harmony Gold, through their unincorporated Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV), hold 50% stake each in the Wafi-Golpu Project.

The MoU marks a step ahead for the joint venture towards the signing of a mining development contract for the Wafi-Golpu copper-gold porphyry project.

Newcrest said the MOU outlines the aspects to be included in the mining development contract related to the Wafi-Golpu project.

The terms include Papua New Guinea’s equity stake in the project, tax package, royalty rate, and the special mining lease’s term and scope.

It also covers terms for other related agreements to be signed with the government as well as commitments for the WGJV to invest in the infrastructure and social development projects.

The contract is required for the issuance of a special mining lease, Newcrest said.

Newcrest Mining interim CEO Sherry Duhe said: “Importantly, the project will result in fair and equitable benefits for landowners, communities, local level governments, the Morobe Provincial Government and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, while also delivering strong returns for the developers.”

The project development, however, is subject approvals from both boards of Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining and the finalisation of the permitting process.

Located in the Morobe Province, 65km south-west of Lae City, the Wafi-Golpu project comprises the Nambonga copper-gold porphyry deposit, the Golpu copper-gold porphyry deposit, and the Wafi high sulfidation epithermal gold deposit.