Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) announced that underground development at the Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo mined and stockpiled 269,000 tonnes of ore grading 5.36% copper in December from the Kakula and Kansoko mines.
In a press release, the miner said that given this progress, initial production at Kamoa-Kakula can be expected in less than six months.
According to Ivanhoe, the reported tonnage in the last month of 2020 was 7.6% higher than in November, while the copper grade was 10.5% higher. This means that the project’s pre-production surface stockpiles now contain approximately 1.52 million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore at an estimated blended grade of 4.03% copper.
The company also said that contained copper in the stockpiles increased by approximately 14,400 tonnes in December – a 30.9% increase over November’s production reflecting the increased mining in the ultra-high-grade centre of the Kakula Deposit – to a cumulative total of more than 61,000 tonnes.
This development means that the project is on track to have approximately three million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore stockpiled on the surface, holding more than 125,000 tonnes of contained copper, prior to the planned start of processing in July 2021.
“After more than 26 years of continuous efforts, Ivanhoe Mines and its joint-venture partners are less than six months away from initial production at Kamoa-Kakula – the first world-scale copper discovery on the African continent in generations,” Robert Friedland, Ivanhoe Mines co-chair, said in the media brief.
“Underground development at the Kakula Mine is well ahead of schedule and construction of the first phase processing plant is on schedule to produce exceptionally high-grade and clean copper concentrates beginning this July.”
Besides mining and stockpiling, December’s progress at the site brought total underground development to 29.8 kilometers – approximately 10.5 kilometers ahead of schedule. The monthly underground development in December was 2,521 meters at the Kakula mine and 271 meters at the Kansoko mine.
The Kamoa-Kakula copper project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).
According to an independent pre-feasibility study released in 2019, if all phases are completed, the operation is expected to reach peak annual production of more than 700,000 tonnes of copper.
The updated resource estimate for the massive project shows it holds 1.4 billion indicated tonnes grading 2.74% copper for 83.7 billion pounds of copper and another 339 million inferred tonnes grading 1.68% copper for 12.5 billion pounds of copper at a 1% cut-off grade.