THE next chapter in the historic story of gold mining on Woodlark Island has reached a key milestone with Geopacific Resources Limited commencing construction at the 1.6 million ounce Woodlark Gold Project in Papua New Guinea.

This first phase of development, which follows a recent successful A$40 million capital raising, is designed to facilitate project execution in preparation for the construction of the process plant and the completion of project financing.

GPR’s Managing Director Ron Heeks, said the work programme includes road upgrades, construction of a new wharf, clearing of the process plant site, relocation of the Kulumadau Village and upgrades to the Woodlark mine camp to accommodate an additional 250 people.

Leading contractor HBS has been selected to undertake earthmoving civils and have mobilised a fleet of equipment to site, while PNG specialist project management firm Rhodes Projects will lead the construction of new houses and village amenities.

Mr Heeks said the teams from HBS and Rhodes Projects will now begin the process of selecting and training the local Woodlark community in preparation for upcoming project development and mining activities.

 “We are excited to commence construction and development activities in such a short timeframe since completing the capital raising,” Mr Heeks said.

“Extensive work was undertaken to achieve this commencement date as we aim to deliver gold production in a safe, timely and cost efficient manner.

“The reception from the local community has been excellent and they are excited to see the benefits of skills training, employment opportunities, health, and education as a result of Woodlark’s advancement.

“Geopacific has made a commitment to engage as many Woodlark residents as possible for all aspects of the project, including the Kulumadau relocation. This is expected to create a skills transfer and sense of community ownership of the new village.”

Mr Heeks said the existing village located on Kulumadau mining area will be relocated to new areas, selected by the residents, outside the mining lease. The relocation will include construction of new houses, trade stores, churches, schools and other ammentities.

Gold was first discovered on Woodlark Island in the Solomon Sea in 1895 and since that it has been the site of gold rushes and a number of historic operations were undertaken prior to World War II.