Woodlark Island gold project
Client name: Kula Gold Limited
Duration: August 2009 – March 2014
Location: Woodlark Island, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea
Over a four year period, we worked together with Kula Gold to achieve environmental approval for the first new greenfield mining project in Papua New Guinea in almost a decade.
Negotiating the pathway for successful environmental and social impact assessment and approval in Papua New Guinea can be a challenge for small, aspiring resource development companies such as Kula Gold. This challenge is magnified when the project is located in a remote and isolated part of the country, where the logistical effort required to safely complete project feasibility and environmental studies is considerable.
Woodlark Island, 300 km east-northeast of Alotau, in Milne Bay Province, is a picturesque yet difficult place to work. There is no regular air or sea transport to the island, few roads and even fewer cars, and no reticulated power or water. If you miss the plane or forget supplies for environmental and social studies, it can be a long and unproductive wait until they arrive.
Kula Gold is proposing to develop a 9-year, 1.8 Mtpa gold mine on Woodlark Island. Coffey was engaged to help them achieve this, through managing the environmental approval process.
To inform the environmental impact statement, we scoped, planned and completed a large number of environmental and social baseline and impact assessment studies over several years.
This required close collaboration with Kula Gold to ensure that studies were successfully delivered on time, on budget and to the required standard to satisfy the PNG Government and the Minister for Environment and Conservation. Planning for the surveys commenced many months before mobilisation. This was to ensure the required equipment, supplies and people arrived on Woodlark Island on schedule and to allow the studies to be completed as planned. Contingency planning was critical to ensure we expected the unexpected and that minor hiccups did not translate into major problems for the project.
The environmental and social studies to inform the EIS for the project were successfully completed in late 2012, with the EIS submitted to the PNG Government for assessment in early 2013. Just nine months later, the Minister for Environment and Conservation approved the EIS, and in early 2014 granted the environment permit - the final environmental approval required before construction of the project can begin and the first granted for a new greenfield mining project in PNG since 2004.