23 Aug 2007

PNG's Lihir gold mine saving millions of dollars on energy costs

11:33 am on 23 August 2007

Papua New Guinea's Lihir gold mine is saving millions of dollars on energy costs by using its own expanded 56 megawatt geothermal power station.

Lihir Gold Limited's chief executive Arthur Hood says using geothermal energy will save the company about $40-million US dollars this year.

The mine has 23-point-6 million ounces of existing reserves with 40 million tonnes of economic grade ore stockpiles, containing 3-point-5 million ounces of gold, which are to be processed beyond 2040.

The gold producer's operating profit for the first half of 2007 was 94-point- 7 million US dollars, a 45 per cent jump on the previous corresponding period, due to record gold production and higher realised gold prices.

Mr Hood says the company would spend $US10 million this year on geothermal exploration and $US20 million on sinking new geothermal wells.

He says the payback on the capital expenditure for the geothermal power plant is two and a half years.