Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) has included is 2023 integrated development plan, including a prefeasibility study (PFS) for the Phase 3 and 4 expansions at its Kamoa-Kakula copper complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Also included is a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for a life-of-mine extension.
The complex produced 333,500 tonnes of copper in 2022, more than double its output a year earlier. The project is owned 39.6% by Ivanhoe, 39.6% by Zijin Mining, 0.8% by Crystal River Global, and the balance (20%) by the DRC government.
When the Phase 3 expansion is complete in 2024, copper production will average 620,000 t/y over 10 years at a cash cost of $1.22 per pound. This phase includes the construction of a new 5 million t/y concentrator located at Kamoa.
The replacement of turbine #5 at the hydroelectric power station is underway. The new equipment will supply an additional 178 MW of power to the national grid and provide electricity for Phase 3. A 500,000 t/y direct-to-blister flash copper smelter is also to be completed by the end of next year.
Another nine years is added to mine life, bringing production to 2060 at least. The pre-production capex for Phase 3 is $3.04 billion. After the third phase of expansion, the Kamoa-Kakula project will have a $19.1 billion after-tax net present value at an 8% discount rate.
Phase 4 is planned for later this decade and will include another 5 million t/y concentrator, also at Kamoa. That will bring annual mineral processing capacity up to 19.2 million tonnes and maintain copper output at about 600,000 t/y for a further 10 years.
A new tailings storage facility will also be brought online by 2040. Cost for Phase 4 is estimated at $1.55 billion. The after-tax NPV (8%) of Phase 4 will be $20.2 billion.
By 2050, Ivanhoe intends to position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s fourth-largest copper producer with costs in the lowest quartile.
The resource estimate published in 2022 for mines in both the Kamoa and Kakula areas included 90 million measured tonnes with a grade of 3.13% copper, 1.3 billion indicated tonnes at 2.70% copper and 310 million inferred tonnes at 1.68% copper. Respectively, those resource categories contain 6.2 billion lb., 77.4 billion lb. and 11.5 billion lb. of copper.