Work has begun underground on the Ivanhoe Mines’ 20 000 m diamond drilling program at the Kipushi base metals mine on the Central African Copperbelt in southern Katanga Province. The drilling is designed to confirm and update Kipushi’s estimated historical resources and to further expand the resources on strike and at depth. Production at the mine ceased in 1993.
“This is a major advance toward our goal of returning Kipushi, formerly one of the world’s highest-grade copper and zinc mines, to full production,” Robert Friedland, Executive Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, said. “Our first rig began drilling from a strategically sited pad 1,225 metres below surface last Saturday. We expect that two additional rigs now en route to Kipushi also will join the drilling later this month.”
Crews have been upgrading underground and surface infrastructure to support the start of the drilling program since access to the mine’s principal working level at 1,150 metres below the surface was restored in December 2013.
The mine, which was placed on care and maintenance in 1993, flooded in early 2011 due to a lack of pumping maintenance over an extended period. Water reached 851 metres below surface at its peak. After acquiring a 68% interest in Kipushi in November 2011, Ivanhoe Mines assumed responsibility for ongoing rehabilitation and pumping, which now has dewatered to the 1,257-metre level. Ivanhoe expects to have the mine dry to its lowest ramp level at 1,325 metres below surface during this current quarter, several months ahead of earlier projections.
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