TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The Tenke Fungurume copper/cobalt project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has attracted more than its fair share of naysayers, many of whom questioned the almost $2-billion being poured into the project by its North American owners.
But it seems that Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and its minority partner Lundin Mining may have the last laugh, now that the operation has produced its first copper cathode and the initial plant is on schedule to reach its full production rate during the second half of this year, according to a report from Lundin.
Freeport operates the project and owns an effective 57,75% stake, while Toronto-based Lundin holds 24,75% and DRC State-owned miner Gecamines owns the balance.
The project's initial high-grade oxide ore facilities have been designed to produce about 115 000 t/y of copper cathode and 8 000 t/y of cobalt.
The ramp up of copper production will continue over the next several months in parallel to completion of the cobalt circuit and acid plant, Lundin said in a statement.
The achievement of first production also comes on the heels of a report by Bloomberg News that the DRC government has agreed not to push for any significant changes to the mining contract for Tenke Fungurume.
Like other operations in the country, the asset has been subject to a review of the contract between the government and the international investors in the mine.
Freeport and Lundin have maintained throughout the process that the contract was negotiated transparently and legitimately, and would hold up to legal scrutiny.