Multi-listed Ivanhoe Mines has reported that underground development at the Kakula copper mine in the DRC has reached high-grade ore within the deposit.
Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun, Co-Chairmen of Ivanhoe Mines explain the advancement of the first connecting underground drift, designed to tunnel through the centre of the high-grade orebody and open up the mine’s initial mineral reserves, has reached the edge of the high-grade ore.
Grades of approximately 4% copper have been returned from sampling, and grades are expected to significantly increase as the development crews advance the drifts toward the deposit’s central mining zones that are in excess of 8% copper.
“This intersection marks a significant milestone in the context of our exploration and development efforts at Kamoa-Kakula that began more than 13 years ago,” says David Edwards, Geology Manager, Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project.
“Now that you can see and touch Kakula’s high-grade copper ore, it really hits home that we are well underway toward building the first of multiple high-grade copper mines in the area.”
The Kakula connection drift is being developed to rapidly gain access to the highest grades in the centre of the deposit, and also connect with the Kakula South ventilation decline to increase the air flow to the underground working areas in the large-scale mechanized Kakula mining operation, allowing for more development and production mining crews.
The copper grades in the underground connection drift have been steadily increasing as the development approaches Kakula’s siltstone unit (fine-grained sedimentary rocks).
The siltstone at Kakula is instrumental in the formation of the highest copper grades and is key to the bottom-loaded nature of copper mineralization in the deposit.
The thick, ultra-high-grade mining zones in the centre of the Kakula Deposit, with grades greater than 8% copper, are expected to be intersected in the second half of 2020.
The high-grade ore is being stored on a dedicated run-of-mine stockpile on surface near the planned processing plant to ensure that there is plenty of ore to feed the processing plant during commissioning and ramp up.
The project currently is on schedule to produce first copper concentrate in Q3 2021, with the construction at the mine continuing at a rapid pace.
Underground development is being performed by mining crews operating large-capacity, semi-autonomous mining equipment, such as jumbo drilling rigs, load haul dumpers and 50-tonne trucks.