Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) has completed 80% of phase one work at the Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with first production targeted for July.
The company is commissioning the concentrator plant at the Kamoa-Kakula operation, and has stockpiles already totalling over 2.16 million tonnes – containing an estimated 95,000 tonnes of copper.
The second phase expansion step remains set to begin during the September quarter of 2022. That phase will double the mill throughput to 7.6Mt/y. Phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce up to 400,000t/y of copper.
“Based on independent benchmarking, the project’s phased expansion scenario to 19 Mtpa would position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s second-largest copper mining complex, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 tonnes,” Ivanhoe said in a press release.
Other engineering and construction activities underway at Kamoa-Kakula include the completion of upgrades at the Mwadingusha hydro-electric power plant and associated 220-kilovolt infrastructure to supply the mine with clean, renewable hydropower. The Mwadingusha hydropower plant is expected to deliver approximately 78 megawatts of power to the national electrical grid ahead of the start-up of the Kakula concentrator.
A 2020 independent audit of Kamoa-Kakula’s greenhouse gas intensity metrics performed by Hatch confirmed that the project will be among the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced, according to Ivanhoe.
The Kamoa-Kakula Project, a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines and Zijin Mining, has been independently ranked as the world’s fourth-largest copper deposit by Wood Mackenzie.
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.