Ivanhoe Mines is currently mulling over expanding Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Kamoa-Kakula copper mines. The execution of this move will see the copper mines become the world’s second largest after the giant Escondida mine of BHP and Rio Tinto in Chile.
According to a company statement, the expansion will see Kamoa-Kakula increase its production rate to 18m tonnes a year with peak copper output of 740 000 t/y. The expanded plan for Komoa-Kakula is based on an initial six-million-tonne-a-year mine at Kakula, followed by two 6m-tonne-a-year mines at Kansoko and Kakula West, and a direct-to-blister smelter.
Ivanhoe, which owns 39.6% of the project together with Zijin Mining (39.6%), Crystal River Global (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%), has started underground development at the planned initial Kakula mine.
According to media reports from the company’s statement, most of the major procurement packages had been ordered and that construction would get under way shortly, with completion scheduled by the end of 2019.
Initial production from the Stage 1 development is scheduled for early 2021. The Stage 1 production is projected to have a grade of 6.4% copper over the initial ten years of operations, resulting in an estimated production of 291 000 t.
The Komoa-Kakula project has a total mineral resource of 1.39-billion tonnes, grading 2.64% copper, containing 80.6-billion pounds of copper at a 1% copper cutoff grade and a minimum thickness of 3 m.
Meanwhile, Ivanhoe reported that it had spent more than US $600m to advance its three mine projects in Southern Africa in 2018. Besides Kamoa-Kakula, these include the Kipushi project, in the DRC, and the Platreef project, in South Africa.