Democratic Republic Of Congo — Ivanhoe Mines, the TSX-listed copper and platinum company’s new, independent, Mineral Resource estimate for its Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-lead-silver mine has revealed significant high grades, especially for its zinc project component.
Kipushi is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines and Gécamines, the state-owned mining company.
Highlights of this initial estimate, prepared by the MSA Group, of Johannesburg, South Africa, in compliance with CIM definition standards, are:
Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources in the Big Zinc Zone of 10.2 Mt at grades of 34.89% zinc, 0.65% copper, 19 g/t silver and 51 g/t germanium, at a 7% zinc cut-off, containing an estimated 7.8 Blb of zinc.
The zinc grade of Kipushi’s Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources in the Big Zinc Zone is more than twice as high as the world’s next-highest-grade zinc project, independently ranked by Wood Mackenzie, an international industry research and consulting group, based on contained zinc.
Zinc-rich Inferred Mineral Resources total an additional 1.9 Mt at grades of 28.24% zinc, 1.18% copper, 10 g/t silver and 53 g/t germanium. The Inferred Mineral Resources are contained partially in the Big Zinc Zone and partially in the Southern Zinc Zone.
Kipushi’s copper-rich Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources contained in the adjacent Fault Zone, Fault Zone Splay and Série Récurrente Zone total an additional 1.63 Mt at grades of 4.01% copper, 2.87% zinc and 22 g/t silver, at a 1.5% copper cut-off, containing 144 Mlb of copper. Copper-rich Inferred Mineral Resources in these zones total an additional 1.64 Mt at grades of 3.30% copper, 6.97% zinc and 19 g/t silver.
Ivanhoe’s exploration programme has demonstrated that zinc and copper mineralisation of the Kipushi system remains open laterally and at depth.
“This independent estimate of Kipushi’s Mineral Resources has exceeded our expectations. We are convinced that significant additional Mineral Resources can be delineated at Kipushi,” says Robert Friedland, Executive Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines.
“With a current resource now established, we are evaluating technical and infrastructure options to best advance the project. The exceptionally high grades that consistently are being discovered at Kipushi are unique in the international mining industry and provide further confirmation that this project has the potential to benefit the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo for decades to come when it returns to production.”
The Kipushi Mine is on the Central African Copperbelt in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) southern Haut-Katanga province, one of Africa’s major mining hubs.
The mine, which began operations in 1924, is located approximately 30 km southwest of the provincial capital, Lubumbashi, and less than 1 km from the DRC-Zambia border. Ivanhoe holds a 68% interest in Kipushi and the state-owned mining company, Gécamines, holds the remaining 32% interest.
The MSA Mineral Resource estimate was based on the results of 84 drill holes completed at Kipushi by Ivanhoe Mines and an additional 107 historical holes drilled by Gécamines.
Mineral Resource estimates were completed below the 1 150 m-level on the Big Zinc Zone, Southern Zinc Zone, Fault Zone and Série Récurrente Zone. The Mineral Resources were categorized either as zinc-rich resources or copper-rich resources, depending on the most abundant metal.
For the zinc-rich zones, the Mineral Resource is reported at a base-case cut-off grade of 7.0% zinc and the copper-rich zones at a base-case cut-off grade of 1.5% copper.
Given the considerable revenue that could be obtained from the additional metals in each zone, MSA considers that mineralisation at these cut-off grades will satisfy reasonable prospects for economic extraction.
Additional exploration drilling in the southern extension area sucessfully confirmed that both the Big Zinc Zone and Fault Zone remain open at depth and to the south with significant intersections on both structures in recent drilling.
Additional high-grade copper-zinc-germanium mineralisation also was discovered in the Fault Zone and in Fault Zone Splay in the immediate footwall of the Fault Zone.
In December 2015, Ivanhoe achieved a major milestone in its upgrading of Kipushi’s underground infrastructure when the water level in Shaft 5 was pumped below the mine’s main pumping station situated at 1 210 m underground.
Friedland notes that since Ivanhoe assumed responsibility at Kipushi, significant progress has been made in rehabilitating the surface and underground infrastructure at Kipushi.
The dewatering programme, implemented by Ivanhoe in late 2011, has been successful and the water levels are now being maintained below Kipushi’s main pumping station on the 1210 m level.
Three new, high-capacity Grifo pumps have been purchased and will be installed at the main pumping station alongside the five existing high-capacity Sulzer pumps that are being refurbished.
The expected cost of the upgrade and refurbishment of the main pumping station is expected to be approximately US$3.8 million. The new Grifo pumps are expected to be commissioned in the third quarter of this year and, in conjunction with the refurbished Sulzer pumps, will provide sufficient pumping capacity to keep the entire mine dewatered with a 100% pumping redundancy.
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