About Us

Frieda River Limited is a Papua New Guinea incorporated company and is the Project proponent.

Frieda River Limited has been operating in Papua New Guinea since 2015 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian headquartered company, PanAust Limited.

PanAust Limited, Frieda River Limited’s parent company has been operating Frieda River Limited since 2014 following acquiring the company from Xstrata Frieda River Limited.

In 2015, the name change from Xstrata Frieda River Limited to Frieda River Limited took effect.

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About the Frieda River Project

The Frieda River Project represents a nation-building opportunity for Papua New Guinea and a transformative development opportunity for the East and West Sepik provinces. The project is in the pre-development, permitting phase. Development of the project will not commence until after all required permits, agreements and authorisations are obtained.

The Project will help build stronger and more viable communities by establishing critical public infrastructure, generating skilled employment, and creating business opportunities for local people.

The Frieda River Project will help meet global demand for copper and other precious metals in a socially responsible way, ensuring respectful and ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, and recognising and supporting traditional rights, values and cultural heritage.

The Frieda River Project is a large, integrated mining, renewable energy and infrastructure project.

Frieda River
Copper-Gold Project

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Infrastructure Project

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Frieda River
Hydroelectric Project

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Power Grid Project

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Project scale

The proposed Frieda River Copper-Gold Project is a globally significant development that will comprise the largest integrated mine and renewable, hydro-powered electricity generation facility in Papua New Guinea.

The project will include the following features:
Total material mined will be approximately
2.92 billion tonnes comprising:
1.49 billion tonnes of feed to the process plant
1.43 billion tonnes of waste rock
88.5 million tonnes per year average disposal requirement

The Frieda River Copper-Gold Project has a lifespan of 33-years with high potential for subsequent mine life extension.

The proposed hydro dam will safely store the waste rock and tailings, and have a maximum volume of 9.6 billion cubic metres (Bm3). The proposed mine will only utilise 3.3 Bm3 of this capacity.


We operate sustainably for our communities. PanAust’s Sustainability Policy and related policies, standards and procedures underpin our commitment to the sustainable, and environmentally and socially responsible, development of the Frieda River Project.

In 2015, the development pathway for the Frieda River Project was announced and in 2016 a Special Mining Lease application for the Project was registered with the Mineral Resources Authority of Papua New Guinea.

In 2018, Frieda River Limited submitted an addendum to the 2016 Special Mining Lease application following feedback from the East and West Sepik Provincial Governments and communities and aligned with the Government of Papua New Guinea’s development vision.

Since then, Frieda River Limited has pursued the Frieda River Project in full compliance with the required project approvals and stakeholder engagement legislative processes in Papua New Guinea, as well as its policies, standards and procedures.

Frieda River Limited operates under the laws of Papua New Guinea, paying Government levies and taxes as applicable for the current pre-development stage of the Project.
Frieda River Limited is a part of the Australian headquartered PanAust Group, an international copper and gold producer.

The story so far…
1966 – 1967

The Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources discovers copper-bearing sulphide mineralisation in the Frieda area during a regional mapping program.


Mount Isa Mines applies for and subsequently is granted ‘Prospecting Authority 58’ (later Exploration Licence 58) in March.

1969 – 1971

First drilling program takes place between 1969 and 1971 and was focused on the porphyry style mineralisation at the Koki and Horse prospects and the Pish Bully skarn mineralisation.

1968 – 1973

Carpentaria Exploration Company (Mount Isa Mines exploration arm) produces a resource estimate for the Koki-Horse deposit of 367 million tonnes (Mt) at 0.45 per cent copper and 0.28 grams per tonne (g/t) gold at the end of its exploration activities.

1974 – 1978

Frieda Exploration Pty Ltd discovers of the Ivaal mineralisation and re-estimates a combined Horse-Ivaal resource at 440Mt at 0.52 per cent copper and 0.32 g/t gold.

1974 – 1978

A Japanese consortium represented by Overseas Mineral Resources Development earns a 40 per cent interest in Frieda River by carrying out district scale geology, grid soil surveys, and drilling. This work resulted in the discovery of the Ivaal extension of the Horse deposit, the Ekwai porphyry mineralisation, and the Nena high sulphidation mineralisation.


Overseas Mineral Resources Development discovers the Nena deposit during the follow up of a stream sediment anomaly.


Surface mapping, rock chip sampling, and trenching led to the drilling of the first diamond holes at Nena.


A mineral resource of 32Mt of 2.3 percent copper, 0.6 g/t gold was calculated for the Nena deposit.

1979 – 1985

Frieda Copper Pty Ltd revises resource report to include Horse-Ivaal, Koki, Nena, Ok Nerenere, and Ekwai.

1978 – 1983

Both diamond and Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) drilling was undertaken, mainly focused on evaluating regional prospects.


Highlands Gold commenced a major
core-drilling program aimed at improving the gold resource at Nena.


Highlands Gold increases Nena mineral resource to 51Mt at 2.2 per cent copper and 0.6 g/t gold.


The Frieda River Joint Venture, with Highlands Gold Properties Pty Limited — later Highlands Pacific Limited— as manager, completed a prefeasibility study based on the Nena, Horse-Ivaal, and Koki deposits.


Highlands Pacific Ltd turn focus on testing porphyry mineralisation, testing the Koki, Ok Nerenere, and Trukai prospects.


Cyprus Amax enters a joint venture with Highlands Pacific Limited and Overseas Mineral Resources Development to progress the Frieda River Project and assumes management control.


Cyprus Amax is acquired by Phelps Dodge; Cyprus Amax exits Project joint venture in March.


Noranda Pacific Pty Ltd enters a joint venture with Highlands Pacific Ltd and Overseas Mineral Resources Development. Highlands Frieda Limited again becomes the operating company on site.


Resource estimate of the Horse-Ivaal-Trukai undertaken by Snowden, resulting 1,005Mt at 0.52 per cent copper and 0.31 g/t gold, using a 0.2 per cent copper cut-off. Some 83 percent of the resource was inferred.

2004 – 2005

Drilling programs turn focus on extending the resource at Nena, exploring for more high-sulphidation targets, and collecting metallurgical samples at Nena. Work results in the increase of the Nena resource to 42.7Mt at 3.09 per cent copper and 0.59 g/t gold using a 0.5 per cent cut-off rate.


The Noranda-Falconbridge merge.


Falconbridge purchased by Xstrata; Xstrata Copper takes over management of the Frieda River Project.

2007 – 2008

Drilling was undertaken by the Xstrata Frieda River Ltd – Highlands Pacific Ltd – Overseas Mineral Resources Development Joint Venture.


Drilling program emphasis changes to Horse-Ivaal-Trukai resource in more detail, to increase the proportion of indicated to inferred resources.


Overseas Mineral Resources Development’s interest in the Frieda River joint venture (with Xstrata Frieda River Ltd and HPL) dilutes below five per cent; Overseas Mineral Resources Development drops out of the joint venture in March.


Indicated tonnage of the Horse-Ivaal-Trukai resource passes one billion.


PanAust Limited enters into a share sale and purchase agreement with Glencore to acquire the Frieda River Project. 


PanAust completes acquisition of 80 per cent interest in Frieda River; joint-venture partner, Highlands Pacific hold the remaining 20 per cent interest.


Development of the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project announced as PanAust’s main growth objective.

2016 (May)

PanAust announces the completion of the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project feasibility study.

2016 (Jun)

A Special Mining Lease application for the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project is registered with the Mineral Resources Authority of Papua New Guinea.

2016 (Dec)

PanAust announces the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project and that an electronic copy of the document was lodged with the Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority of Papua New Guinea.

2017 (May)

PanAust announces the completion of an addendum to the original feasibility study for the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project. The addendum incorporated data and technical analysis from geological, geotechnical and metallurgical field projects that were not available at the time of the original 2016 feasibility study.


PanAust announces a new development pathway for the Frieda River Project in December. The new approach focuses on the development of shared-use infrastructure that will support, and in turn be supported by, a hydroelectric power facility and copper-gold mining operation: the Sepik Development Project.

In December an updated feasibility study, Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Proposal for Development were completed and lodged with the Minerals Resources Authority (MRA) and Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority (CEPA). Frieda River Limited continues to work with PNG’s MRA and CEPA to progress the permitting and approvals process related to the updated Proposal for Development and EIS that were submitted in December 2018. 


In early 2022, the Independent Peer Review Process for the large dam design was completed. In August 2022 after the COVID-19-induced hiatus ceased, the Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority recommenced regulatory stakeholder activities to complete the assessment of the permit application. It is anticipated that these activities will continue throughout 2022. 

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