Exploration, discovery and resources, Kainantu gold project, PNG

Provinces and Case Studies


Andrew Vigar


Mining Associates

The Kainantu Au deposit is located in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Alluvial Au was discovered in the area in 1928, with modern exploration and mining commencing in the early 1980’s when Highlands Pacific Limited focused on high-grade Au-telluride vein mineralization. Barrick (Niugini) Limited purchased the project in late 2007 and operations were placed on care and maintenance in January 2009. K92 Mining Inc. (“K92”) purchased the project in 2015 and commenced commercial production in 2018.

Local geology comprises metamorphosed sedimentary rocks of the Early Miocene Bena Bena Formation, which were unconformably overlain by sedimentary and intermediate volcanic rocks of the Omaura and Yaveufa Formations. These successions were intruded by mid- to late-Miocene age stocks, dykes and diatreme breccia pipes of mafic to felsic composition.

The Irumafimpa-Kora vein deposit is the most advanced project at Kainantu with an endowment currently around 1.43 Moz Au. Vein styles include epithermal Au-telluride±Ag and Au-Cu-Ag sulphide of Intrusion Related Gold (“IRG”) affinity. Mineralization occupies a broad northwest trending zone more than 2.5 km long and up to 60 m wide in which Au-telluride lodes vary from less than one metre wide that pinch and swell over short distances and the more continuous Au-Cu-Ag sulphide lodes up to several metres wide.

The recognition of two distinct styles of mineralization and the process of creating a single 3D resource model facilitated understanding of the overlapping mineralisation systems. A large gap beneath shallow drilling in the Eutompi area was targeted by the K92 exploration team, resulting in the discovery of the IRG vein system of Kora North.

The Kainantu project is located in a world class province and there are numerous less advanced prospects nearby including epithermal Au veins similar to Irumafimpa, IRG veins similar to Kora, porphyry Cu Au systems, skarn Cu, Pb and Zn mineralization and alluvial Au.

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