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Ivanhoe to launch $16m exploration program at Western Foreland in DRC

Western Foreland area looking south from Makoko toward the Zambian border. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines).

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) announced that it plans to carry out a $16-million exploration program on its Western Foreland exploration licenses, which are in close proximity to the Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a press release, the miner said that its DRC exploration group is targeting high-grade Kamoa-Kakula-style copper mineralization through a regional exploration and drilling program on the Western Foreland exploration ground, which shares the same geological setting as Kamoa-Kakula.

According to Ivanhoe, the initial 2021 exploration program will be launched around April and will include 40,000 metres of combined air-core and diamond drilling, airborne and ground-based geophysics, soil sampling, and road construction. 

The Western Foreland area is more than six times larger than the Kamoa-Kakula mining license

“Though the covid-19 pandemic curtailed our field exploration plans in 2020, we were able to accomplish a significant amount of geophysical surveys and sampling work, which are our key early-stage prospecting techniques for identifying high-priority targets in this part of the Central African Copperbelt,” Robert Friedland, Ivanhoe’s co-chairman, said in the media brief.

“Exploration is in our DNA, and given the outstanding regional prospectivity of our landholdings in close proximity to the Kamoa-Kakula discovery, we are anxious to ramp up our exploration program as aggressively as possible.”

In Friedland’s view, his team’s record of discovery successes at Kamoa-Kakula is unparalleled. Thus, he said he has tremendous confidence in their ability to leverage the company’s proprietary exploration knowledge to deliver the DRC’s next major copper discovery.

“It was in the spring of 2016 that the team of geologists now leading our Western Foreland exploration efforts made the Kakula Discovery, which has transformed the Kamoa-Kakula project into the world’s highest-grade, major copper mining operation,” the executive said. “Given the geological similarities between Kamoa-Kakula and our adjoining exploration ground, which is more than six times larger than the Kamoa-Kakula mining licence, the Western Foreland area is unquestionably one of the most prospective copper exploration districts anywhere in the world.”