Ivanhoe development of Congo copper mine ahead of schedule

Kamoa Kakula development team. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines).

Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) announced that the underground development at its Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to advance ahead of schedule and that initial production is expected in Q3-2021.

In a press release, co-chairs Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun said that more than eight kilometres of underground development have been completed, which is 1.7 kilometres ahead of plan. They also said that this month, the mining team is on pace to set a new monthly development record of 1,310 metres of advancement ─ 380 metres ahead of plan for the month.

The Kamoa-Kakula Project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%)

The underground development work at Kakula is being performed by mining crews operating large-capacity, semi-autonomous mining equipment, such as jumbo drilling rigs and 50-tonne trucks.

According to Friedland and Sun, mine access drives 1 and 2 − interconnected, parallel tunnels being developed from Kakula’s main northern declines that will provide access to high-grade ore zones are also being quickly done.

The development ore is being transported to the surface and stored on pre-production stockpiles, which are expected to grow to approximately 1.5 million tonnes of high-grade ore and an additional 700,000 tonnes of material grading approximately 1% to 3% copper prior to the start of initial production by the end of next year.

“Based on the results of the February 2019 Kakula pre-feasibility study, Kakula’s average feed grade over the first five years of operations is projected to be 6.8% copper, and 5.5% copper on average over a 25-year mine life,” the media brief states.

In parallel to the construction of Kamoa-Kakula’s phase 1 Kakula mine, work is progressing on the independent Kakula definitive feasibility study and an updated integrated development plan for the entire Kamoa-Kakula mining complex, which is expected to be issued in mid-2020.

Located within the Central African Copperbelt, approximately 25 kilometres west of the town of Kolwezi, Kamoa-Kakula is a large, near-surface, flat-lying, stratiform copper deposit with adjacent prospective exploration areas.

It is estimated that the deposit contains 1.34 billion indicated tonnes grading 2.72% copper for 80.7 billion pounds of copper, as well as 315 million inferred tonnes at 1.87% copper for 13 billion pounds of copper.

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