This was the word from Newcrest chairman Peter Hay when he addressed shareholders at the company's annual general meeting.
"We continue to progress our work at Wafi-Golpu, with the current focus on assessing external and internally generated power options, in our search for greater reliability and lower operating costs; comparing deep-sea tailing placement options to terrestrial tailings storage options; and re-assessing block cave panels, size and processing capacity due to increased knowledge as a result of ongoing drilling," Hay said, adding that the company would likely submit an amendment to the special mining lease application depending on the outcome of the study update.
Hay said that the timing of first production was dependent on study outcomes and granting of the special mining lease.
"More broadly, brownfield exploration, brownfield expansions and de-bottlenecking offers some of the lowest-cost, lowest-risk and highest-return growth opportunities in our business," Hay said.
Meanwhile, managing director Sandeep Biswas said that the improvement in the social, operational and financial performance of Lihir mine "and the manner in which it has been achieved, is one of the things I am most proud of.
"The turnaround at Lihir, has seen the site team take mill throughput from about 10 million tonnes in the 2014 financial year to 13Mt in the 2017 financial year, generating $353 million of free cash flow before tax.
"This improvement has come from hard work, operational discipline, and the application of innovative thinking. The team achieved a record quarterly mill throughput rate of 14.5Mtpa in the June 2017 quarter.
"I remain confident that we will achieve a sustainable 14Mt annualised rate by December this year. The potential for further improvement beyond 14Mt is an exciting value creation opportunity for Newcrest shareholders, especially given Lihir's long mine life," Biswas said.