Ivanhoe Mines Reports Q1 2024 Production Results for the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex

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Delivery of the turbine shaft for Turbine #5, inside the turbine hall at the Inga II hydro dam. The refurbishment of Turbine #5 is on schedule for completion in the fourth quarter.

Ivanhoe Mines Executive Co-Chair Robert Friedland and President Marna Cloete have announced that the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) produced 86,203 tonnes of copper in concentrate during the first quarter of 2024. Ivanhoe Mines maintains its 2024 annual production guidance for Kamoa-Kakula at between 440,000 to 490,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate.

Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 1 and 2 concentrators milled approximately 2.06 million tonnes of ore during the first quarter at an average feed grade of 4.8% copper. Copper flotation recoveries for the quarter averaged 87.4%, above the Phase 1 and 2 concentrator design recovery rate of 86.0%.

A daily milling record was achieved on January 2, 2024, when 31,375 tonnes of ore were processed by the Phase 1 and 2 concentrators over 24 hours. This performance is equivalent to an annual milling rate of 10.5 million tonnes (after accounting for availability).

A quarterly mining record of 2.50 million tonnes of ore was achieved from the Kakula and Kamoa 1 underground mines, as shown in Figure 1. Ore from the Kamoa 1 mine is stockpiled on surface ahead of the commencement of the adjacent Phase 3 concentrator. The Phase 3 concentrator is tracking ahead of schedule with completion now expected next month, in May. At the end of the quarter, there was 2.05 million tonnes of stockpiled ore for the Phase 3 concentrator, at an average grade of 3.1% copper.

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Figure 1. Mined ore per quarter from Kakula and Kamoa 1 underground mines (million tonnes)

As mentioned in the company’s annual 2023 results on February 26, 2024, the first quarter production, including throughput and head grade continued to be impacted by the previously reported instability within the DRC’s southern power grid. Kamoa Copper continues to work closely with the DRC’s state-owned power company, La Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL), to deliver solutions for the identified causes of the instability experienced across the southern DRC’s grid infrastructure since late 2022. During the first quarter, heavier-than-usual rainfall during the wet season further contributed to grid power intermittency. The rainfall led to elevated water levels in the Congo River, causing debris to block the intakes that feed the Inga hydroelectric dam complex. The blockages negatively impacted hydro generation capacity. The wet season typically occurs between November and April.

In December 2023, SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC, a subsidiary of Kamoa Holding Limited, signed an amendment to the existing financing agreement to fund the identified infrastructure upgrades. The original 2014 financing agreement consisted of a loan of up to $250 million to fund the refurbishment of 78 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity at the Mwadingusha dam and 178 MW of generation capacity from Turbine #5 at the Inga II dam. The refurbishment of the Mwadingusha facility was completed in September 2021, and the refurbishment of Turbine #5 at Inga II dam is on-schedule to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2024.

The amendment to the financing agreement expands the loan up to a total of $450 million. As with the existing financing agreement, the $200 million in additional funding by Ivanhoe Mines Energy to SNEL bears interest at the Secured Overnight Financing Rate plus 3% and will be repaid via a 40% discount on the tariff of grid energy consumed by Kamoa-Kakula.

The additional funding is assigned specifically for grid infrastructure upgrades, such as an increase in grid capacity between the Inga II dam and Kolwezi, a new harmonic filter at the Inga Converter Station, as well as a new static compensator at the Kolwezi Converter Station. In addition, various smaller initiatives have been identified to strengthen the transmission capability and improve the stability of the southern grid. This includes the restringing of powerlines in the southern grid, as well as repairs to the direct current (DC) infrastructure. Funding will also be used to install preventative measures to avoid future blockages of the Inga dam intakes. Mobilization of resources is well underway, with project delivery expected to be complete by mid-2025. In addition to this, Ivanhoe Mines Energy is working with SNEL to put in place maintenance contracts to maintain key generation capacity and transmission infrastructure.

As a redundancy measure, Kamoa Copper’s engineering team is currently expanding the on-site backup generation capacity to ensure there is full on-site redundancy for the current Phase 1 and 2 operations, as well as future Phase 3 operations. On-site backup-power generation capacity is on schedule to increase, via a phased roll-out, from the current 58 MW to a total of over 200 MW in time for the completion of the Phase 3 smelter in Q4 2024, as shown in Figure 2. An additional 20 MW of generation capacity is in the process of being installed and commissioned, with a further 50 MW on schedule to be commissioned from the end of the second quarter. This will bring backup generation capacity to 128 MW. The generator farm sites are being built adjacent to the Phase 1 and 2 concentrators, and the smelter site at Kakula, as well as adjacent to the Phase 3 concentrator at Kamoa.

In addition, since mid-March an additional 15 MW of power is being supplied to Kamoa-Kakula from the neighbouring Zambian grid. The additional power has had a noticeably positive effect on power stability of Kamoa-Kakula’s operations. Kamoa-Kakula’s executive team is in discussions for up to an additional 35 MW of power to be supplied via the Zambian interconnector later in the second quarter, subject to capacity availability from its adjoining Namibian, Botswanan, and Mozambique grids. By the end of 2024, Kamoa-Kakula is targeting up to 100 MW to be supplied via the Zambian interconnector.

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Figure 2. 2024 Phased rollout of onsite, back up generation capacity at Kamoa-Kakula in megawatts (MW)

Cannot view this image? Visit: https://images.newsfilecorp.com/files/3396/204120_fig5_550.jpgThe construction team celebrates as the second anode furnace is lifted into position at Kamoa-Kakula’s direct-to-blister smelter complex, which will be Africa’s largest, and is on track for commissioning in Q4 2024.

Ivanhoe Mines to issue Q1 2024 financial results and host conference call for investors on April 30

Ivanhoe Mines will report its Q1 2024 financial results, and a detailed update on its operations, before the market opens on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

The company plans to hold an investor conference call to discuss the Q1 2024 financial results on the same day. Details of the call will be shared closer to the date.

An audio webcast recording of the conference call, together with supporting presentation slides, will be available on Ivanhoe Mines’ website at www.ivanhoemines.com.

After issuance, the Financial Statements and Management’s Discussion and Analysis will be available at www.ivanhoemines.com and www.sedarplus.ca.

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