Ivanhoe hits upper end of 2022 guidance, expects higher output this year after debottlenecking

The expansion of the concentrate storage and dispatch warehouse at Kamoa is nearing completion. Credit: Ivanhoe Mines

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) reported on Monday that its flagship Kamoa-Kakula mining complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produced a total of 333,497 tonnes of copper in concentrate during the past calendar year.

Kamoa-Kakula’s 2022 copper production represents the upper end of the company’s original guidance range of 290,000 to 340,000 tonnes. It also represents a 215% increase over 2021 — its first year of commercial production.

The lower end of the 2022 production guidance was raised to 325,000 tonnes last year following the successful ramp-up of Kamoa Copper’s Phase 2 concentrator plant, which was commissioned several months ahead of schedule and declared commercial production on April 7, 2022.

“Kamoa-Kakula has firmly established a track record of excellence during the development of Phase 1 and Phase 2 operations, which has led to an industry-leading growth profile in terms of copper production that will continue as we bring Phase 3 online,” Ivanhoe’ co-chair Robert Friedland said in a press release.

Friedland said Kamoa-Kakula stands out among its peers as one of the few mining operations worldwide to strongly deliver on its original 2022 production guidance, which he said “is a further testament to the team of engineers and contractors who commissioned the Phase 2 concentrator several months ahead of schedule.”

The 2023 annual production guidance for Kamoa-Kakula is estimated at between 390,000 and 430,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, following the anticipated completion of the debottlenecking program early in the second quarter of 2023.

The debottlenecking program, which would soon increase the rate of annualized production to 450,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, is at the moment over 90% complete. All major equipment for the program has been delivered to the site, and the final step of installation will take place over the next few months, with cold commissioning targeted for April 2023.

“With the Phase 3 expansion well on track, including the integration of Africa’s largest single-line blister-copper flash smelter, Kamoa-Kakula is poised to become one of the world’s leading producers of vital copper metal for global markets … a producer that will have one of the lowest, if not the lowest, carbon footprints in the industry,” Friedland added.

The Kamoa-Kakula 2023 integrated development plan, which will include both the Phase 3 and Phase 4 expansions as well as the smelter, is expected to be released later this month, in addition to cash cost and capital expenditure guidance.

Shares of Ivanhoe Mines traded 0.3% lower by noon ET Monday. The Vancouver-based miner has a market capitalization of C$13.9 billion ($10.4bn).