Gécamines & Ivanhoe Restart Kipushi Zinc-Copper-Silver Mine

Kipushi Is Expected to Produce More Than 250,000 Tonnes of Zinc Annually Over First Five Years of Re-Opening Say Gécamines & Ivanhoe Mines

Created in 1906, Gécamines is the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned mining company that has produced copper since 1911. Ivanhoe Mines, however, is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and has global stakes in mining copper, nickel, zinc and platinum group metals, primarily platinum, palladium and rhodium. 

The two mining companies have entered a joint venture to restart the ultra-high-grade Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine — the beginning of a new era of production for the Kipushi Mine, which will resume operations one hundred years after first opening in 1924 as the world’s richest copper mine.

“The relaunch of the Kipushi mine is a source of pride for all of Gécamines’ employees, the local communities of Kipushi town, the Haut-Katanga Province as well as our country as a whole,” Gécamines’ Chairman, Guy-Robert Lukama Nkunzi, commented.

“The restart of operations of a mine as emblematic as Kipushi, after 30 years of inactivity, is a strong signal of the desire and commitment of Gécamines, and its partner Ivanhoe Mines, to contribute to the DRC’s economic development, in accordance with the vision outlined by His Excellency, the President of the Republic Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo.

“Thanks to this agreement, Gécamines will immediately increase its stake in KICO to 38%, then to 43% in 2027, strengthening its position in the joint venture. More importantly, Gécamines working alongside its world-class partner, will unlock the substantial potential of this unique, ultra-high-grade zinc deposit, with notable quantities of germanium, copper and other metals critical for global growth.

“The successful development of Kipushi will create prosperity on many levels. We will be creating local employment and developing the local economy, and we will also structurally strengthen Gécamines and the Democratic Republic of Congo, placing them on the world stage for the production of strategic minerals.”

Copper mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Under the new agreement, both surface construction activities and underground development tracking are ahead of schedule for first production, expected in the second quarter of 2024.

“We are delighted to execute the joint-venture agreement with our long-term partners at Gécamines,” shares Robert Friedland, Ivanhoe Mines’ Founder and Executive Co-Chairman.

“Together we will make Kipushi great again! Kipushi is an extraordinary mineral endowment, holding not only the world’s richest zinc orebody, but also significant quantities of copper, lead, silver, germanium and gallium. Kipushi is another great example of the unparalleled opportunities in the DRC for mineral development. There is no better place on our planet to build a mine. This makes the Central African Copperbelt and high-grade mines, like Kipushi and Kamoa-Kakula, strategically important worldwide … especially in light of the increasing fragmentation of supply chains and the growing demand for low-carbon-intensive strategic minerals.

“We would like to commend the dedicated Kipushi team, our joint-venture partner Gécamines, and the hardworking Congolese people for their exceptional contributions towards restarting this historic mine. The project is advancing ahead of schedule, in line with our track record of operational excellence. Kipushi’s restart follows the timely and cost-effective delivery of Phases 1 and 2 at the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex, with Phase 3 now also ahead of schedule for first production in the third quarter of 2024.”

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