Ivanhoe Mines has reported an updated mineral resource estimate for the Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd. (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%).

An initial 3.8-million-metric-ton-per-year (mt/y) mining operation on the Kakula deposit is nearing startup, with first concentrate production scheduled for the third quarter of 2020.

The new total mineral resource estimate for the Kamoa-Kakula property is the culmination of an infill drilling program designed to better define higher-grade copper zones. At a 1% cut-off, indicated mineral resources now total 760 million mt grading 2.73% copper, containing 45.8 billion pounds (lb) of copper, while inferred mineral resources total 235 million mt grading 1.7% copper, containing 8.8 billion lb of copper.

At a 3% cut-off, the new mineral resource estimate boosts indicated mineral resource tonnages by 15% and contained copper by 15.5% to a total of 256.8 million mt at a grade of 4.15% copper. At the same 3% cut-off, inferred mineral resources now total 13 million mt at a grade of 3.51% copper.

The majority of recently added copper resources are hosted in the Kamoa-Kakula property’s ultra-high-grade Bonanza Zone and the Far North Zone. The initial indicated mineral resource estimate for the North Bonanza Zone includes 1.5 million mt grading 10.7% copper at a 5% cut-off.

The Bonanza and Far North zones were discovered within previously drilled areas following a review of the mineralization controls evident at the Kansoko, Kakula, and Makoko discoveries on the Kamoa-Kakula property. An intense focus on understanding these controls and how to recognize them from available data provided the exploration team with the ability to target high-grade zones, leading to infill drilling that included the two highest-grade intersections ever drilled at the Kamoa-Kakula project.

Two drill rigs currently are drilling in the Kamoa North area, testing the typical Kamoa-Kakula shallow mineralized horizon on previously identified, high-grade copper trends.

The ultra-high copper grades intercepted to date in the North Bonanza Zone are believed to be the result of an east-west growth fault focusing copper-rich fluids to interface with both the typical mineralized horizon at Kamoa-Kakula and the overlying, highly sulphidic and reduced Kamoa Pyritic Siltstone (KPS). This has resulted in a new, upper mineralized zone hosted in the KPS characterized by the bonanza-grade copper found in the vicinity of hole DD1450.

Ivanhoe Mines Vice President of Resources George Gilchrist said, “The delineation of indicated mineral resources at the North Bonanza Zone and the Far North Zone continues the long history of exploration success at Kamoa-Kakula. We see excellent opportunity to add further shallow, higher-grade copper resources in the northern portion of the mining license in the general vicinity of these zones, as well as on our adjoining, wholly-owned Western Foreland exploration licenses, which should allow us to further unlock the exciting potential of this resource area.”