This follows the announcement by joint venture partner Anglo American to withdraw.
In a statement on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange (POMSOX), Anglo American has given notice that it will withdraw in 30 days and will relinquish its vested 15 percent holding in the project, leaving Highlands with a 100 percent interest.
Highlands managing director Craig Lennon was disappointed that Anglo American would not be continuing with the joint venture, however said its involvement over the past three years had greatly enhanced the understanding of the geology of the tenements and substantially increased the value of the project.
“We will now be free to introduce a new partner to continue exploration efforts,” he said. “Drilling to date has confirmed extensive mineralisation through the various prospects that have been tested to date, and we remain confident that further exploration will identify the source and structure of the mineralisation sufficiently to support a significant development project.”
Anglo American and Highlands established the joint venture in February 2015 and since then, Anglo American has funded an extensive exploration program, including two diamond drilling campaigns.
Anglo American has spent a total of US$38 million (K116 million) on the project, including a US$10 million (K30 million) payment to Highlands Pacific for its initial entry into the project.
This comes on top of significant funding by various project participants since the initial discovery by Kennecott in the late 1960s when they found Ok Tedi’s Mt Fubilan deposit.
The Star Mountains exploration tenements, which include Nong River EL1312, Tifalmin EL1392, Mt Scorpion EL1781, Benstead EL2001, Mt Abemh EL2467, Ilam River EL2478 and Lake Louise EL2517 cover 1049 km2 and are located approximately 20km north east of the Ok Tedi mine and 25km from the support town of Tabubil.