Tiger Resources has reported positive results from an engineering and costing study of a planned debottlenecking project at its Kipoi copper SX/EW plant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project is expected to increase the plant’s production of copper cathodes from 25,000 mt/y to 32,500 mt/y and is backed by mine reserves to support the increased operating rate over a period of more than 16 years.

Capital costs to develop the project are estimated at less than $25 million. Average life-of-mine operating costs at the expanded production rate are estimated at $1.27/lb of copper produced. Detailed engineering and design for the project have been initiated, and an investment decision is expected in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The debottlenecking study focused on potential modifications to utilize identified latent capacity of the Kipoi SX/EW processing train. Tiger completed the study with assistance from independent consultants Cube Consulting and Worley Parsons. The project has a forecast internal rate of return of 107% and a payback period of 10 months at a copper price of $3.00/lb.

Once started, Tiger expects to complete the debottlenecking project within an eight-month period, including detailed design, procurement and construction. A start of project work in the fourth quarter of 2015 would see completion during the third quarter of 2016.

The debottlenecking study utilized the existing Kipoi JORC-compliant reserve of 50.5 million mt grading 1.4% copper for 689,000 mt of contained copper. The mining schedule assumes utilization of conventional open-pit mining methods, with a life-of-mine strip ratio of 2.1:1.

The Kipoi copper project is located 75 km northwest of Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province, in the central part of the Katanga copper belt. The mining license covers an area of 55 km2 that hosts five known copper deposits. The SX/EW plant started up in late May 2014 and reached design capacity in August 2014.