Ivanhoe Mines and its joint-venture partner Zijin Mining announced they are preparing to accelerate a planned infill drilling program on the Kakula Discovery area at their Kamoa copper project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), beginning in May.

Speaking at the 15th World Copper Conference in Santiago, Executive Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines Richard Friedland said the Kamoa exploration team’s goal is to complete approximately 25,000 meters of additional drilling in the Kakula Discovery area in 2016. The company is upgrading access and drill roads in the Kakula Discovery area to support the additional diamond drill rigs that will be mobilized to the site in early May.

“Our accelerated infill drilling program will target thick, flat-lying, shallow resources at grades materially higher than the average grades at Kamoa that potentially could be incorporated into our Phase One feasibility study, which could enhance the already robust economics that were reported in our independent prefeasibility study on February 23 and help to ensure that Kamoa becomes one of the highest grade, new copper mines in the world,” Friedland added.

The accelerated 2016 drill program initially will focus on a 12-square-kilometer area along the projected trend of mineralization intersected in holes DD996 and DD997 that were completed in 2015. The drill program now also includes follow-up infill drilling aimed at defining Indicated Resources in areas where the continuity of materially higher grade is confirmed. The 2016 drilling area and the initial drill sections are shown in figures 1 and 2.

The 2015 holes DD996 and DD997 rank among the highest-grade and highest-grade-thickness intersections drilled to date within the Kamoa Mining License area.

Hole DD996 intersected 24.16 meters of 3.48% copper, at a 1% copper cut-off. At a higher cut-off of 2% copper, the DD996 intersection was 13.16 meters of 5.26% copper. Hole DD997 intersected 18.75 meters of 4.64% copper at a 1% copper cut-off and 15.17 meters (of 5.33% copper at a 2% copper cut-off.

Ivanhoe Mines reported on January 25 that the Kamoa exploration team had made a new tier-one, high-grade, shallow and flat-lying stratiform copper discovery, ideally situated for low-cost mechanized mining, in the Kakula Discovery area, approximately five kilometers southwest of the currently defined resources at the Kamoa copper deposit. The Kakula Discovery is situated within the 400-square-kilometre Kamoa Mining License area and represents a major extension of the Kamoa copper deposit, which the company discovered in 2008.

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