Installation of the first of the two ball mills has commenced at the Phase 3 concentrator site. (Photo: Ivanhoe Mines)

Ivanhoe Mines reported that the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produced a record 103,947 metric tons (mt) of copper in concentrate during Q3 2023. The complex milled 2.24 million mt of ore during the quarter at an average grade of 5.55% copper. The Phase 1 and 2 concentrators are currently operating at a capacity of 9.2 million mt/y.

Kamoa-Kakula’s year-to-date production now totals 301,336 mt of copper in concentrate, and Ivanhoe expects to meet its annual guidance of 390,000 to 430,000 mt of copper in concentrate.

“Kamoa-Kakula continues to set records and outperform our expectations, with continued strong performance in terms of throughput, grade and recovery at the Phase 1 and Phase 2 plants,” said Ivanhoe Mines Founder and Executive Co-Chair Robert Friedland. “This has all been achieved despite ongoing challenges presented by electrical grid instability, where we now have a plan in place with the Congolese national utility to materially improve reliability across the network for all users over the next year. Meanwhile, the successful connection of the Kamoa 1 and Kansoko underground declines marks a major milestone for the Phase 3 expansion.”

Kamoa-Kakula’s high- and medium-grade ore surface stockpiles totaled approximately 4.1 million mt at an estimated grade of 3.55% copper as of the end of September 2023. The operation mined 2.18 million mt of ore grading 5.31% copper in Q3 2023, which was comprised of 2 million mt grading 5.57% copper from the Kakula mine, including 1 million mt grading 7.10% copper from the mine’s high-grade center.

Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 3 expansion, consisting of two new underground mines known as Kamoa 1 and Kamoa 2 and a new, 5-million-mt/y concentrator, is well on track for first production in Q4 2024. The expansion also includes the integration of Africa’s largest direct-to-blister flash smelter, which will have a capacity of 500,000 mt/y of copper and will be constructed on-site at Kakula.

Underground mining activities are expected to commence at Kamoa 1 in late 2023 and Kamoa 2 in 2025. Both new underground mines will use the same mechanized mining methods employed at the current Kakula mine. In addition, the Phase 3 concentrator will use the same, upscaled process design as that used by the Phase 1 and 2 concentrators.

Installation of the first of the two ball mills has commenced at the Phase 3 concentrator site. Flotation cell installation is also underway with commissioning on track for Q4 2024. The first lots of cone crushers, flotation cells, vibrating screens, and other processing equipment are now on site or expected to be delivered to site soon. Overall project progress of the Phase 3 concentrator is now approximately 56% complete.