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Ivanhoe Mines soars on third major copper discovery in Congo

Extracting mineralized core from Kakula North exploration drilling. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines.)

Shares in Canadian miner Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) jumped Monday after it announced a significant new discovery of high-grade copper on its 100%-owned Western Foreland asset, west of the Kamoa-Kakula mining licence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The find, named Makoko, is Ivanhoe’s third major copper discovery in the DRC, as well as the first of multiple high-potential target areas identified by the company’s exploration team to be tested by drilling.

The 6.75 sq. km discovery remains open in all directions, while the company continues drilling other targets on Western Foreland for high grade copper, Ivanhoe said.

The company’s shares climbed in Toronto as much as 8.4 percent to C$2.98 on the news at 9:35 am, and were still trading 5.82% higher at C$2.91 by 11:49 am local time.

Ivanhoe began drilling Western Foreland in the third quarter of 2017, with most of the 50 holes drilled made in the Makoko area, a flat lying and near surface stratiform deposit, similar to its flagship Kamoa-Kakula project.

“Given the early drilling success at Makoko, we are highly confident that we have the secret blueprint for additional exploration successes in the Western Foreland area in 2019 and beyond,” Ivanhoe executive co-chairperson Robert Friedland said in the statement.

Last month, a unit of Chinese state-run conglomerate CITIC became the biggest shareholder in billionaire Friedland’s company, following a decision to give up a 20% stake for about $548 million (C$723m).

Another Chinese firm, Zijin Mining Group — which acquired a stake in Ivanhoe Mines in 2015 through a wholly-owned subsidiary — exercised its existing anti-dilution rights through a concurrent private placement. This means that Zijin owns now 9.7% of Ivanhoe Mines.

Ivanhoe Mines estimates its flagship Kamoa-Kakula project, discovered in 2007, holds the equivalent of at least 45 million tonnes of pure copper, which would make it world’s fourth-largest. The company aims to extract 300,000 tonnes per year once the mine is operating at full tilt.

An initial, independent resource estimate for the Makoko copper discovery is expected to be completed in the current financial quarter.