Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) shares climbed 7% on Monday after the company announced progress is being made advancing underground development at its Kakula mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with current mining grades of up to 11% copper in one of the access drives.
According to the company, Kakula’s northern and southern dual access drives are expected to be connected (holing) next month, allowing highly-productive mining (stoping) operations to begin in high-grade zones.
“Development of the dual access drives from Kakula’s northern decline has entered a zone of chalcocite-rich ore grading up to 11% copper over a height of 6.6 metres,” said company founder Robert Friedland in a media release.
“These copper grades are extraordinary in a global context, but are not unexpected. They are real-time confirmation of the exceptional quality of the Kakula resource, which sits at the apex of any ranking worldwide.”
Access drift 1 from Kakula’s southern decline has moved from the medium-grade ore zone into the high-grade ore zone, and currently is traversing the +8% copper zone as it approaches the “holing” position in the centre of the deposit, Ivanhoe said.
According to the definitive feasibility study, (DFS) the mine will average 284,000 tonnes of copper per year for the first 10 years, processing 6.2% Cu ore at a pedestrian pace of 6 million tonnes per annum.
“The unique scale and grade of the Kamoa-Kakula complex will, in our opinion, drive premium valuations for Ivanhoe as the company enters production,” said BMO Capital Markets in a recent note.
“The updated project schedule for the initial 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum (Mtpa) concentrator plant indicates that first ore now is expected at the beginning of our Q3 2021 planned window,” said Steve Amos, Kamoa Copper’s Head of Projects.
“We will leverage what we have learned thus far into Phase 2 construction, and expand the project at a sustainable rate that minimizes peak funding. Phases 1 and 2 combined are expected to produce approximately 400,000 tonnes of copper per year,” said Mark Farren, CEO of Kamoa Copper.
According to the company, a recent audit of greenhouse gas intensity metrics performed by Hatch Ltd. confirmed that Kamoa-Kakula will be among the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced.
Ivanhoe Mines has a C$6.14 billion market capitalization.