Ivanhoe to start copper exploration in Angola

Convoy of trucks transporting Kamoa’s copper concentrate for export to international markets. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines.)

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) said on Monday it plans to kick off exploration activities in Angola next year as it has secured greenfield prospecting rights over an area the size of Switzerland for an initial period of five years.

The Canadian miner has been granted 22,195 square kilometres of rights for exploration in the country’s Moxico and Cuando Cubango provinces, covering what Ivanhoe calls “highly prospective” greenfield copper exploration ground.

Activities are expected to commence following team mobilization in early 2024, the company said.

Ivanhoe can extend the permit to a maximum of seven years, but it will have to relinquish 50% of the prospecting rights at the end of the initial period of five years.

“Our goal is to make Angola a globally significant producer of strategic minerals that our planet so desperately needs, for many generations to come,” Ivanhoe founder and co-chairman Robert Friedland said in the statement.

Limited prior exploration has been conducted in the greenfield area granted to Ivanhoe to date. Much of the permitted land is covered by Kalahari sand and Karoo volcanics, similar to the Kamoa-Kakula licenses in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which makes conventional exploration techniques less effective. 

Anglo American (LON: AAL) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) are also undertaking greenfield exploration activities in the region.

Ivanhoe has committed to an initial exploration budget of $10 million in Angola. It said its exploration team will be deploying the expertise developed from its discoveries of Kamoa-Kakula and the Western Foreland in the DRC.

The company has achieved success at its Kamoa-Kakula complex, from which it began exporting copper in mid-2021. Ivanhoe currently ships output from the mine by rail via the Lobito Corridor that crosses Angola, ending at the Atlantic Ocean. 

Ivanhoe is also working to restart the historic high-grade Kipushi zinc mine in the DRC, and is undertaking exploration at the Western Foreland project in the country.

In South Africa, it is advancing construction of its 64%-owned Platreef palladium, rhodium, nickel, platinum, copper and gold project.