Historic Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine moves closer to operation

By Dale Benton
A historic zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo is set to be revived, following more than 20 years under care and maint...

A historic zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo is set to be revived, following more than 20 years under care and maintenance.

The Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine, under the ownership of  Kipishi Corporation (KICO) – a JV between Ivanhoe Mines and Gecamines, is moving one step closer to restarting operations as the company revealed it is in advanced discussions to “launch a new era of production.”

Should the mine successfully be restarted, a steady state production would make the Kipushi deposit the world’s highest grade major zinc mine.

Through a collaborative effort, including Ivanhoe Mines, Gecamines  (the state-owned miner and executive partner to Ivanhoe) and Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo (SNCC), the DRC’s national railway company, significant progress has been made by KICO in modernizing the Kipushi Mine’s underground infrastructure as part of preparations for the mine to resume commercial production.

Significsnt progress has been made by KICO in modernising the Kipushi Mine’s underground infrastructure as part of preparations for the mine to resume commercial production.

With the underground upgrading program nearing completion, KICO’s focus now will shift to modernizing and upgrading Kipushi’s surface infrastructure to handle and process Kipushi’s high-grade zinc and copper resources.

The KICO team, which includes more than 390 Congolese nationals, has done a fantastic job in safely upgrading the mine’s underground infrastructure in anticipation of restarting production,” said Robert Friedland, Executive Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines

“Given the extremely high zinc grades at Kipushi, the mine has the potential to become one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost zinc producers, while also producing significant quantities of copper, silver and germanium. With the current, long-term, bullish market sentiment for zinc, we look forward to working with our partner, Gécamines, prospective project financiers and our team at Kipushi to fast-track completion of the remaining development at the mine.

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The historic Kipushi Mine

Built and then operated by Union Minière for 42 years, Kipushi began mining a reported 18% copper from a surface open pit in 1924. It was the world’s richest copper mine at the time.

Over a span of 69 years, Kipushi produced a total of 6.6 million tonnes of zinc and 4.0 million tonnes of copper.

Mning at Kipushi ended in 1993, when it was placed on care and maintenance due to a combination of economic and political factors.

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