Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN; OTCQX: IVPAF) announced on Monday that underground development at the Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) totalled 2,172 metres in October, a new monthly record.
The result brings total underground development to 24.7 kilometres – approximately 7.9 kilometres ahead of schedule.
According to Ivanhoe, mining crews produced a combined 194,000 tonnes of ore in October from the Kakula and Kansoko mines, which was 48% higher than achieved in September. The project’s pre-production surface stockpiles now contain approximately one million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore at an estimated grade of 3.47% copper.
The monthly total of 2,172 metres of underground development in October was comprised of 1,809 metres at the Kakula mine and 363 metres at the Kansoko mine, which is located at the Kamoa Deposit – approximately 10 kilometres north of the Kakula mine.
“We remain on track to open up sufficient high-grade reserves in time to feed our phase 1 and 2 concentrator plants with high-grade copper ore,” Mark Farren, Kamoa Copper CEO said in a media release.
“The imminent joining of Kakula’s northern and southern main access drives will be a major milestone in the mine’s development. Once this is achieved, the opening up and ledging of the drift-and-fill blocks can commence in the high-grade core of the deposit, where the average grade is projected to exceed 8% copper,” he added.
Underground development at the Kansoko mine currently is in low-to-medium-grade ore zones, grading approximately 3% copper, the company reported. In October, mine development work intersected the first exposure of siltstone, marking the transition to higher copper grades at Kansoko.
Phase 1 copper production from the Kakula Mine is scheduled to begin in July 2021. Kakula is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mtpa at an estimated average feed grade of more than 6.0% copper over the first five years of operation.
Phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce approximately 400,000 tonnes of copper per year.
Based on independent benchmarking, the project’s phased expansion scenario to 19 Mtpa would position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s second largest copper mining complex, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 tonnes.
“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 note in September.
Kamoa-Kakula is expected to be connected to the national power grid in December.
The Kamoa-Kakula Copper 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%).
Midday Monday, Ivanhoe’s stock was up 1.3% on the TSE. The company has a C$6.3 billion market capitalization.