Aside from focusing on their Hidden Valley project, Harmony and Newcrest have been working on a number of exploration sites. At Wafi-Golpu, the joint venture has compiled an integrated geological model, and has outlined a mining method for the Golpu porphyry. Other prospects currently under evaluation include Kesiago (copper-gold), Apu Creek (base metals and silver), Yafo and Biamena (both gold), all of which have been drilled recently.

On Woodlark Island, Woodlark Mining is reported to have identified a 1-million-oz-plus resource at its namesake project, with additional drilling having been carried out in order to improve the resource estimate. Further drilling and scoping studies are under way this year.

Allied Gold commissioned its mine on Simberi Island in February 2008, with the operation having produced 100,000 oz of gold by mid-2009. The company has also been able to increase its total resource there to 4.7 million oz of gold and 10 million oz of silver, including 1.4 million oz of oxide resources and 3.3 million oz of sulphide resources. Exploration is continuing at both the Sorowar and Pigiput prospects, with Allied having begun plant optimization studies aimed at a consistent 100,000-oz/y output from the operation.

Elsewhere, Barrick Gold has started work on its earn-in commitments at Allied’s copper and gold prospects on Tatau and Big Tabar islands. Following on from initial fieldwork and an airborne EM survey over the Tabar Island group, Barrick’s targets here have included Tupinda, Banasa and Kupo. The company also spent $10 million on exploration at its own Kainantu property in the Eastern Highlands during 2008, plus a further $27 million on mine development.