Ivanhoe Mines has begun producing copper concentrate at its Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) months ahead of schedule against the backdrop of record prices for the red metal.
Following 24 years of exploration and development Ivanhoe, and partner Zijin Mining, revealed that as of May 25th, 5% to 6% copper ore is being conveyed directly from Kakula’s underground mining operations to the run-of-mine stockpile and the concentrator. Based on extensive testwork, the concentrator is expected to produce a very high-grade, clean concentrate grading approximately 57% copper, with extremely low arsenic levels.
“This is a historic moment for Ivanhoe Mines and the DRC,” said Ivanhoe’s Founder and Chairman Robert Friedland. “Discovering and delivering a copper province of this scale, grade and outstanding ESG credentials, ahead of schedule and on budget, is a unicorn in the copper mining business. This accomplishment reflects the outstanding cooperation of thousands of individuals, and all of our joint-venture partners at Kamoa-Kakula.
“Although this exploration journey started well over two decades ago, it also is noteworthy that the Kakula deposit itself was discovered a little over five years ago, which is remarkable progress by the mining industry’s glacial standards from first drill hole to a new major mining operation.
“The initiation of production puts us on the path to establish Kamoa-Kakula as the second largest, and perhaps eventually the largest, copper mining complex in the world. What really excites our geologists is the profound potential to find additional Kamoa-Kakula-like copper discoveries on our massive Western Foreland exploration licences right next door, in an identical geologic setting.”
Co-Chairman Miles Sun also commented: “Today marks a monumental milestone not only for Ivanhoe Mines, but also for Kamoa-Kakula’s host country – the DRC, our young, dedicated Congolese employees, and local communities. We all are extremely proud to be part of this remarkable achievement, which is a true reflection of Ivanhoe’s 24 years of tenacity and commitment to the country and industry.
“The inception of Phase 1 is the birth of a copper complex that will benefit generations to come, and we very much look forward to the upcoming phases of expansion and exploration opportunities. Huge congratulations to the entire Ivanhoe Mines team and a roaring applause to all the hard-working suppliers and contractors for collectively completing this mammoth undertaking!”
Kamoa-Kakula is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 million tonnes per annum at an estimated average feed grade of more than 6.0% copper over the first five years of operation. Kakula is the first of multiple high-grade mining areas planned on the 400-square-kilometre Kamoa-Kakula mining licence.
The copper project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe (39.6%), Zijin Mining (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%).
Jinghe Chen, an Ivanhoe Director and Chairman of Zijin Mining, added: “As a joint-venture partner and a shareholder of Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin Mining is tremendously proud to showcase the fruition of this exceptionally successful partnership with Ivanhoe in bringing Phase 1 of Kamoa-Kakula into production ahead of time, while overcoming the significant challenges presented by an unprecedented global pandemic.
“It truly has required a global band of dedicated and exceptional talents that consist of the 7,000 workers onsite, and most importantly, the unwavering support from all our stakeholders, to make this important milestone a reality.”
Robert Friedland is profiled as our Mining Legend in the latest issue of Mining magazine.
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