Copper concentrate production has kicked off at Ivanhoe Mines’ Phase 1, 3.8 Mtpa Kamoa-Kakula mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), several months ahead of schedule.
Commenting on the significance of the start of production at Kamoa-Kakula, DRC president Félix Tshisekedi, said, “The start of production of copper concentrate at the Kamoa-Kakula Mine indicates that the DRC is open for business and investment. We congratulate Ivanhoe Mines for having reached this milestone on this world-class discovery.”
First ore was introduced into the concentrator plant on 20 May to perform initial hot commissioning tests on the ball mills and other processing equipment. The initial mill feed grade reached approximately 4% copper shortly after start-up. 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.
A unicorn in copper mining
“This is a historic moment for Ivanhoe Mines and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Ivanhoe’s co-chair 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 added, ““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.”