Definitive feasibility study for Kakula confirms giant mine

An access and ventilation tunnel under construction on the south side of Kakula copper deposit. (Image: Ivanhoe Mines.)

Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) published on Tuesday the results of an independent definitive feasibility study (DFS) for its Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which confirms the asset could become the world’s second largest copper mining complex.

Kakula, the first underground mine planned at the Kamoa-Kakula concession, is forecast to generate 6 million tonnes of ore a year at an average feed grade of 6.6% copper over the first five years of operation, the study shows.

Ivanhoe said the document is an independent verification by nine of the world’s top engineering firms of Kakula’s robust economics

Ivanhoe said the document is an independent verification by nine of the world’s top engineering firms of Kakula’s robust economics.

“The definitive feasibility study also confirms what we’ve been telling investors for the past year and a half, and showcasing monthly in our progress galleries – the Kakula mine is being rapidly built, it is ahead of schedule, and is on budget,” Ivanhoe’s co-chairperson Robert Friedland said in the statement.

Kakula, which is expected to begin production in less than a year, will also have top ranking “green” credentials, according to Friedland.

“The mine has been designed to produce the world’s most environmentally-responsible copper, which is crucial for today’s new generation of environmentally- and socially-focused investors,” he said.

Phased development

The Vancouver-based company also issued a prefeasibility study for extracting 1.6-million tonnes of copper a year from the Kansoko mine  to “take full advantage of an expanded plant capacity of 7.6-million tonnes a year at Kakula.”

Ivanhoe reiterated that the Kamoa-Kakula project, being developed in partnership with China’s Zijin Mining Group, will advance in stages until having four producing mines with a combined 19 million-tonne per year output rate.

Peak annual copper production from Kakula, Kansoko, Kakula West and Kamoa North is expected to surpass 800,000 tonnes, the company said.

DFS evaluates development of a stage one, 6-Mtpa underground mine and surface processing complex at the Kakula deposit with a capacity of 7.6 Mtpa, built in two modules of 3.8 Mtpa

Friedland, who made his fortune from the Voisey’s Bay nickel project in Canada in the 1990s, has been working on Kamoa-Kakula for ten years.

Last month, the company struck a strategic partnership with China Nonferrous Metal Mining (CNMC) to explore opportunities, including exploration and smelting, in Africa.

In January, CNMC opened Congo’s first large-scale copper smelter, the Lualaba Copper Smelter, 45km from the Kamoa-Kakula copper joint venture in the country’s southern copperbelt.

Kamoa-Kakula is a strategic partnership between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%).

Ivanhoe is exploring for new copper discoveries on its wholly-owned Western Foreland exploration licenses, adjacent to the Kamoa-Kakula mining license.

The company is also advancing the Platreef palladium-platinum-nickel-copper-gold-rhodium discovery in South Africa and upgrading its historic Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-lead-germanium mine, also in the DRC.