Latest indications are that — once restarted — the Kinsenda copper mine in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the potential to become an exceedingly competitive copper mine.
This is the optimistic forecast in the latest update released by Australian-based Copper Resources Corporation (CRC), the majority 75% shareholder in Minière de Musoshi et Kinsenda (MMK), which holds Kinsenda and two other high-grade deposits in the Katanga province. The remaining 25% of MMK is held 20% by the state company, SODIMICO, and 5% by the Forrest Group, the largest private business in Katanga.
An independent bankable feasibility study on the Kinsenda Restart Project is being prepared by Mineral Engineering Technical Services (Pty) Ltd of Perth, and CRC believes that with high grade ore identified and low estimated operating costs predicted, the prospects are highly encouraging.
The BFS estimates that the total financing required, including capital cost, working capital and financial charges during construction, will be approximately US$93 million (more than R650 million), and that operations will commence in mid-2008.
CRC intends providing US$36.4 million (R260 million), but will have to seek further equity funding to complete the project. RMB Resources, which previously approved a project loan in the amount of US$32 million R230 million), has expressed interest in arranging and providing an expanded facility of US$56 million (R400 million).
The mine is expected to treat 1.2 million tonnes of ore annually, yielding 54 000 tpa at full capacity. Life of mine has been calculated at 13 years, but current exploration could lead to a significant increase in resource, resulting in a substantial extension of mine life.
The BFS also confirmed the highly profitable and attractive nature of the project, as a result of the high grade of the ore (5.1%). The average total cash operating cost is estimated to be very low at 71 US cents per pound of copper, ensuring the competitiveness of the mine.
Significant progress has been made on dewatering of the mine which is currently at 260 m and is expected to reach 285 m by the middle of July. This will allow securing, cleaning and preparing of the stopes for exploitation on that level. It will also enable the installation of the necessary pump station to reach the 330 m level, which will then allow for a start on the actual development of the mine.