AUSTRALIAN investment broker Evans and Partners has given a “positive” rating to Papua New Guinea mining explorer and developer Highlands Pacific, The National reports.
The company is a junior partner in the US$1.4 billion Ramu nickel and cobalt being developed by Chinese giant Ramu NiCo, 18.18% joint venture partner in Xstrata’s Frieda River copper mine in East Sepik and explorer in the Star Mountains of Western’s North Fly electorate.
“Highlands Pacific remains our number one recommendation within the copper space, due largely to the extreme discount to valuation the company is currently trading,” research analyst Cathy Moises said in Evans and Partners’ Australian resource sector report released last week.
She wrote that with a decision on the Ramu NiCo submarine tailing disposal court case expected later next month, a trebling of the exploration focus in the Star Mountains and final definitive feasibility study for Frieda River due in January 2012, the news flow would be significant.
Frieda is the key asset, she said, noting that it was one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper/gold resources.
“Subject to the project continuing to meet its project hurdles, a 12-month feasibility study is due for completion in January 2012, with possible construction commencing in 2012 and production in 2017,” Moises said.
The pre-feasibility study provided for a 60mtpa operation for the first eight years of mine life and 50mtpa average for LOM (when processing harder ore).