Ivanhoe Looking at Multiple Options for Kamoa-Kakula

Ivanhoe Mines announced the results of a positive preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of two potential options for the start of underground copper mining on its Kakula and Kamoa deposits in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A second PEA, currently in progress, is considering additional options.

Ivanhoe and Zijin are using six rigs to further define the Kamoa-Kakula mineralization.

Ivanhoe discovered the Kamoa deposit in 2008 and the Kakula deposit, 5 kilometers (km) southwest of Kamoa, in late 2015. The Kakula mineralization is substantially richer, thicker and more consistent than mineralization at Kamoa.

Development options considered in the current PEA start with a single, 4-million-metric-tons-per-year (mt/y) Phase 1 mine on the Kakula deposit that would produce an average of 216,000 mt/y of copper in concentrate at a mine-site cash cost of $0.37 per pound (lb) of copper over the first 10 years of operations. Mill feed would have an average grade of 7.52% copper during the initial five years of operations. Very-high-grade copper concentrates would average more than 50% contained copper, with extremely low arsenic levels.

Phase 1 project life is estimated at 23 years. Pre-production capital cost is estimated at $1.0 billion.

A second option for the Kamoa-Kakula project would be to develop two mines, one at Kakula and another at Kamoa, producing an combined average of 8 million mt/y. Copper contained in concentrate would average 292,000 mt/y at a mine-site cash cost of $0.42/lb of copper over the first 10 years of operations. Pre-production capital cost of this option is also estimated at $1 billion.

Ivanhoe’s options for Kamoa-Kakula project do not end there. The second PEA now in progress is assessing the potential for an initial stand-alone, 8-million-mt/y mine at Kakula, plus expanded, combined mining scenarios of 12 million mt/y and 16 million mt/y from the Kakula and Kamoa deposits.

The current Kamoa-Kakula project’s PEA was independently prepared by OreWin Pty. Ltd., Amec Foster Wheeler E&C Services and SRK Consulting Inc.

The Kamoa-Kakula project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin Mining Group and the government of the DRC. Ivanhoe and Zijin each hold an indirect 39.6% interest in the project, the DRC government holds a direct 20% interest and Crystal River Global Ltd. holds an indirect 0.8% interest.

Ivanhoe and Zijin are continuing exploration drilling in and around the Kakula deposit area, using six drill rigs, to expand the extent of the known mineralization and support potential upgrades in resource confidence categories. Ivanhoe expects to issue an updated resource for the Kakula deposit in the first quarter of 2017.

Regarding ongoing Kamoa-Kakula project development, Ivanhoe CEO Lars-Eric Johansson said, “We will be working with our partners Zijin Mining and the DRC government to develop Kamoa-Kakula into the world’s next great copper mine, generating widely shared economic benefits that will help to sustain communities, and deliver jobs and skills training, in conjunction with effective environmental management.”

Zimplats Developing $264M Mupani Mine

The boards of directors of Impala Platinum Holdings and Zimplats have approved development of the $264 million Mupani mine in Zimbabwe. Zimplats is 87% owned by Impala, and its operations are situated on Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke southwest of Harare, the nation’s capital. The company operates four underground mines and a concentrator at Ngezi. Its Selous metallurgical complex, 77 kilometers (km) north of the underground operations, includes a concentrator and a smelter.

The Mupani underground mining complex will replace production from the Rukodzi and Ngwarati mines after they have been mined out and closed. Early project work, including mining the box cut and constructing the main access road, project offices, and other essential project infrastructure, started in June. The box cut was scheduled for completion in November, and preparations to start developing the main underground access are in progress.

Zimplats anticipates it will take 37 months to develop the underground infrastructure required to access the first planned reef panels, which will allow the first mining teams to be deployed from early 2021. Design capacity of 2.2 million mt/y is targeted for 2025, when a full complement of 10 mining teams (nine production teams and one development team) will be deployed.

The new mine will have a life expectancy of 34 years extracting only relatively flat ore reserves (0 to minus 9°). The project will increase Zimplats’ mineral reserves by 3 million platinum oz to 9 million platinum oz.

The Mupani mine will employ approximately 1,000 people at full production, as well as a substantial number of contractors during development, construction, and commissioning of the project. The mine design builds on the modern, low-cost, mechanized room-and-pillar mining method that is employed at Zimplats’ current mining operations.

Once commissioned, Mupani ore will be beneficiated at the existing Ngezi/Selous processing facilities and smelted in the 12.5-megawatt (MW) Zimplats furnace, which was recently equipped with modern remote-controlled hydraulic mud guns for safe furnace tapping and upgraded furnace automation for online condition monitoring and safe process control.

Zimplats produced 290,400 oz of platinum in its fiscal year to June 30, 269,500 oz in converter matte and 20,900 oz in concentrate sold.