Ivanhoe Mines to Quadruple 2024 Exploration Budget

Ivanhoe Mines’ exploration team with a diamond drill rig in the Western Foreland

Ivanhoe Mines, Founder and Executive Co-Chair Robert Friedland and President Marna Cloete announced that the company is substantially increasing its group exploration activities and budget for 2024. The group budget for 2024 will quadruple to approximately $90 million, with exploration activities primarily focused on the 2,654-square-kilometre Western Foreland Exploration Project. The budget increase follows the November 28, 2023 announcement of the geologically significant, high-grade Kitoko copper discovery, as well as the maiden Mineral Resource estimates for the Makoko and Kiala high-grade copper discoveries, as announced on November 13, 2023, in the Western Forelands.

The Kitoko discovery confirms the presence of a globally significant high-grade copper mineralizing system. Kitoko’s copper mineralization is hosted in near flat-lying siltstone of the lower Grand Conglomerate, similar to the geologic setting observed at the Kamoa, Kakula, Makoko and Kiala high-grade, sedimentary copper discoveries. All of these discoveries, including Kitoko, in the Western Foreland share the same characteristics of mineralization being bottom-loaded with the highest copper grades occurring at the base of each sedimentary, copper-mineralized horizon.

However, what differentiates the Kitoko discovery from the previous Kakula, Kamoa, Makoko and Kiala discoveries, is that the Kitoko discovery exhibits two remarkably different characteristics. Firstly, the mineralization is hosted within the Grand Conglomerate, directly overlying the Kibaran Basement rocks (see Figure 1) with no underlying Mwashia sandstones. This is significant as Ivanhoe Mines’ geology team previously conceived that the sandstones are the primary sedimentary aquifer allowing the circulation of oxidized copper-bearing basinal fluids, which precipitated copper when they were brought into contact with overlaying pyrite-rich reduced sediments. The remarkable Kitoko discovery proves the potential for copper mineralization to occur across a greater variety of underlying aquifer conditions rather than being limited to areas where the Mwashia sandstones are present. Secondly, mineralization at Kitoko occurs across at least two distinct, high-grade, sedimentary horizons. This emphasizes the strength of the mineralizing system, as sufficient copper remains in the fluid following the interaction with the lower reductant, to be able to subsequently mineralize a second horizon.

As a result, the Ivanhoe Mines’ exploration model has been disrupted by the Kitoko discovery, significantly increasing the proportion of the Western Foreland that is prospective for world-class, high-grade, sedimentary copper systems.

Ivanhoe Mines’ Board of Directors has just approved a quadrupled groupwide exploration budget to $90 million for 2024. The increased budget will focus on activities around the Kitoko discovery, as well as testing additional new targets developed in light of the Company’s new geological understanding.

The recent exploration success further reinforces the vital role of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the future of the world’s copper supply. As announced on November 13, 2023, the Makoko discovery ranks as the world’s third-largest and highest-grade copper discovery since Kakula in 2016.

Ivanhoe is in discussions with multiple potential strategic investors, including major international corporations and sovereign wealth funds, regarding matters including, but not limited to, fast-tracking the development of the Western Foreland.

Ivanhoe Mines’ Founder and Executive Co-Chairman, Robert Friedland commented:

“Given the ongoing exploration success across the Western Foreland, highlighted by the recently announced high-grade Kitoko copper discovery and the release of the Makoko and Kiala maiden Mineral Resource estimates, we are really accelerating our exploration drilling into 2024.

“The goals of this expanded exploration effort will be threefold. Firstly, we will continue to expand the Kitoko copper discovery with additional drill rigs, thereby increasing our knowledge of its substantial exploration opportunities. Kitoko highlights the potential for high-grade copper mineralization across a much greater area, and within a wider variety of geological conditions, than previously conceived by our geologic team who have decades of experience in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Second, we will advance our understanding of the Makoko and Kiala deposits and optimize our studies for near-term copper mine production on our majority-owned licences. Finally, we will continue to evaluate high-priority targets across the Forelands, based on our fast-evolving proprietary database and geologic models for additional tier-one, high-grade copper discoveries.”

Watch a timeline video, dated October 2023, chronicling Ivanhoe Mines’ exploration success in the DRC. An updated version, including Ivanhoe’s more recent developments, will be released in the new year.



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