Ivanplats announced on August 5 that Hatch Ltd., South Africa, has been contracted to undertake a new study to help set the stage for cost-effective development of an underground mine and processing plant at the company’s Kamoa copper project in Katanga province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The NI 43-101-compliant study is expected to result in the declaration of the first mineral reserves at Kamoa and to describe an appropriately phased approach to achieving first production and progressive expansion.

Ivanplats is currently proposing two principal phases of development for Kamoa: an initial mining and concentrating operation focused on shallow underground resources and a major, phase-two expansion of the mine and mill and construction of a large smelter.

Initial mill feed for phase one would be drawn from gently-dipping mineralized zones that collectively contain estimated indicated resources of 224 million mt grading 3.85% copper at a 3% copper cutoff and a minimum 3-m vertical mining thickness.

Ivanplats Executive Chairman Robert Friedland said the revised mining scenario is being developed to deliver the best balance of a lower initial capital cost and shortest time to first production, while maintaining the company’s commitment to a major mine, mill, and smelting operation. Under the current scenario and subject to available financing, production from phase one could start in 2017.

A recommended initial production rate will form part of the development study being prepared by Hatch. Ivanplats continues to believe that mining rates of up to 20 million mt/y may eventually be achieved.

Excavation of the first mine-access decline at Kamoa is planned to begin early in 2014. The decline will provide access for machinery to the near-surface copper resources that are targeted for the planned first phase of production using the room-and-pillar mining method.

The Hatch study will provide details on equipment, capital, and operating costs as part of an analysis of the scope of proposed mining and processing.

The Hatch study also will assess the most cost-effective smelter capacity and smelting processes.

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