Cost of Ivanhoe’s giant copper project in Congo hits $1.3 billion

Initial production from the Kakula mine, the first of at least three copper mines planned at Kamoa-Kakula, is scheduled for late 2021. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines.)

Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) said Friday that initial capital costs for its Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is now estimated at $1.3 billion, and 18% increase over planned costs.

The fresh figure, which includes expanded plant capacity, additional mining fleets and pre-production ore stockpile, will allow the company to begin production at the mine in the third quarter of 2021, Ivanhoe said.

The fresh figure includes expanded plant capacity, additional mining fleets and pre-production ore stockpile

Capacity of Kakula’s processing plant modules increased by 26% in the three months to Sep. 30, from 3 Mtpa to 3.8 Mtpa, significantly boosting projected early-stage copper production, the Toronto-based miner noted.

Billionaire Robert Friedland’s company has been working on Kamoa-Kakula for ten years. In 2015, China’s Zijin Mining Group got on board, becoming Ivanhoe’s partner in the project. Citic Metal, another Chinese firm, followed suit last year, becoming Ivanhoe’s largest shareholder.

Friedland, who made his fortune from the Voisey’s Bay nickel project in Canada in the 1990s, has repeatedly stated that Kamoa-Kakula has the potential to become the world’s second-largest copper mine.

Once fully developed, the mining complex could produce 382,000 tonnes of copper a year during the first 10 years, climbing to 700,000 tonnes of copper after 12 years of operations.

Source: Wood Mackenzie (based on public disclosure; the Kakula 2019 PFS has not been reviewed by Wood Mackenzie).

Analysts also believe the giant mine could restore the DRC’s historical position as one of the world’s top copper producing countries.

Kakula would be the first of at least three mines planned for the Kamoa-Kakula copper complex.

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