Ivanhoe to produce first copper concentrate from giant DRC mine in a year

Exploration drilling at Kamao North. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines)

Canadian miner Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) is moving full-speed with construction of its giant copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as underground development for Kakula — the stage one, six-million-tonne-per-annum (6 Mtpa) operation — is nearing initial high-grade mining zone.

The company, which received in April an additional C$612 million (about $459m) cash injection from its largest shareholder, China’s state-owned CITIC Metal, said it had also begun earthworks for the surface processing plant and issued tenders for the long-lead mining and processing equipment.

The Canadian miner is moving full-speed with construction of Kakula, the stage one, six-million-tonne-per-annum (6 Mtpa) operation

CITIC Metal’s investment, expected to close no later than Sep. 7, is its second major financing in less than a year, which brings the company’s total investment in Ivanhoe to about $1 billion.

Another Chinese firm, Zijin Mining Group — which became Ivanhoe’s partner in the project four years ago — exercised its anti-dilution rights last month, which in turn will generate additional proceeds for Ivanhoe of C$67 million ($50 million).

Friedland, who made his fortune from the Voisey’s Bay nickel project in Canada in the 1990s, has said the capacity of the project’s first phase, scheduled to begin production in the third quarter of 2021, could later be easily tripled.

Once fully developed, the mining complex could produce 382,000 tonnes of copper a year during the first 10 years, climbing to 700,000 tonnes of copper after 12 years of operations. That means that Kamoa-Kakula has the potential to become the world’s second-largest copper mine.

Analysts also believe the giant mine could restore the DRC’s historical position as one of the world’s top copper producing countries.

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