Harmony Gold is examining growth opportunities including AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine, it said on Tuesday after posting a 19% jump in annual earnings.
Chief Executive Peter Steenkamp said Harmony was interested in projects including Mponeng, the world’s deepest gold mine, as AngloGold looks to streamline its assets and focus on higher returns elsewhere.
“Mponeng is probably one of the many projects that we are looking at, so we are certainly looking at them and weighing them up against one another in terms of cost and everything else”, Steenkamp said on a media call, but declined further comment.
Harmony’ earnings were boosted as production from the Moab Khotsong uranium mine in northern South Africa was included for the full year and it achieved a better operating performance at its Hidden Valley site in Papua New Guinea, where it is also in the permitting phase of its Wafi-Golpu joint venture.
“We have quite a lot in the pipeline in projects but obviously the biggest one is Wafi-Golpu,” Steenkamp said, referring to the underground copper and gold project.
Harmony said it would delay and revise its planned work programme at the joint venture with Australian miner Newcrest Mining after permitting was delayed by the election of a new Prime Minister in May.
There was also delay at the mine caused by legal proceedings between the national government and the Morobe provincial government regarding the internal distribution of the country’s economic interests in the project.
Harmony and Newcrest each own 50% of Wafi-Golpu, with the Papua New Guinea government retaining the right to purchase up to a 30% equity interest.
Steenkamp noted a major issue in Papua New Guinea was a natural gas agreement involving oil major Total, criticised in the past by new Prime Minister James Marape and over which talks are still going on.
“I don’t think the government will have a total different take on it (Wafi-Golpu),” said Steenkamp. “At the moment the biggest focus is to resolve the issue of the LNG project that is currently with Total so that is why we don’t get a lot of traction on our project at this point in time.”
In the latest indication of Papua New Guinea’s stance on exploiting its resources, the commerce ministry said on Monday it wants a larger share of the Porgera gold mine as part of lease-renewal talks, diluting the ownership of partners Barrick Gold Corp and Zijin Mining Group.
Harmony reported annual headline earnings per share, the main profit measure used in South Africa that strips out certain once off items, up 19% at 2.04 rand per share.
Source – Reuters