The Lihir operation on Niolam Island in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG), 900 kilometres north-east of Port Moresby, is 100 per cent owned and operated by Lihir Gold Limited (LGL). Newcrest acquired the Lihir operation as a result of the merger with LGL by court-approved scheme of arrangement in August 2010.
The gold deposit at Lihir is within the Luise Caldera, an extinct volcanic crater that is geothermally active, and is one of the largest known gold deposits in the world. Most of the ore is refractory and is treated using pressure oxidation before the gold is recovered by a conventional leach process. Lihir produces gold doré.
During the June 2013 financial year, Lihir produced 649,340 ounces of gold. Since production commenced in 1997, the site has produced more than 9 million ounces of gold.
At the end of January 2013, Newcrest commissioned a major expansion of the Lihir process plant including installation of a new crushing facility, upgrades to the ore processing plant, and additional power generation capacity and water supply.
This expansion of the processing plant will better match processing rates to mining rates and will increase throughput. It will provide increased operational flexibility, reduce the exposure to single pieces of equipment and lower fixed costs per tonne, with the medium term objective being to lift annual gold production output to 1.2 million ounces.
Exploration has identified several adjacent and partly overlapping mineral deposits in the Luise Caldera, which are collectively called the Ladolam Deposit. The limits of the mineralisation have not been completely defined and are open at depth, along strike and to the east (currently limited by the Pacific Ocean).
Drilling programs have already identified significant mineralisation with encouraging results continuing to support a possible extension to the resource.
Lihir creates economic value for Papua New Guinea and local communities in a number of ways, including direct revenues from operations, investments in public infrastructure and services, support of local suppliers and a range of indirect economic benefits.
Approximately 5,000 people are employed at Lihir which has a combination of residential and fly-in-fly-out personnel, around 90 per cent of employees are Papua New Guineans.
Lihir supports PNG-based suppliers and businesses where possible, consistent with our commitments to landowners and the PNG Government. We also contribute to the local economy in accordance with agreements with the government and landowners by providing public infrastructure and services, including access to health services and the provision of electrical power and water to local villages.