JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – TSX-listed miner Ivanhoe Mines on Monday said its Kakula mine development site, 10 km south of Kamoa’s initial Kansoko mine site, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), started receiving power from the national grid in December.
Kakula’s development is being fast-tracked, with a prefeasibility study under way.
The Kakula boxcut was successfully completed in October and the first blast for the twin declines at Kakula took place in November.
Based on the results from an independent National Instrument 43-101 preliminary economic assessment, released in November, Kakula’s ultra-high copper grade is expected to average 6.4% over the first ten years of production.
An updated mineral resource estimate for Kakula, which is being prepared based on drilling completed to the end of December, is expected to result in a significant upgrade and expansion of the Kakula mineral resource.
Results from drill holes completed to the end of December will form the basis of the new estimate that will encompass the entire strike length of the Kakula discovery, which now extends beyond 12 km. This represents an increase of 60% in the strike length that will be used to calculate the new resource estimate, compared with the 7.7-km strike length covered by Kakula’s current resource estimate.
The new resource estimate will enable Ivanhoe and joint venture partner Zijin Mining Group to assess early and expand production scenarios by incorporating resources from Kakula West and Kansoko to support the main Kakula development plan.
Meanwhile, Ivanhoe also noted that ongoing upgrading work at the Mwadingusha hydropower plant, in the DRC, has almost tripled its interim power output from 11 MW to 32 MW, representing 45% of the plant’s designed capacity.
Three of Mwadingusha’s six generators have now been modernised, with the remaining three generators due to be upgraded and fully operational by the end of 2019 – restoring the plant to its installed output capacity of about 71 MW of power.
The work at Mwadingusha, part of a programme to eventually overhaul and boost output from three hydropower plants, is being undertaken by engineering firm Stucky, of Lausanne, Switzerland, under the direction of Ivanhoe Mines and Zijin, in conjunction with the DRC’s State-owned power company La Société Nationale d’Electricité.
Once fully reconditioned, the three plants will have an installed capacity of about 200 MW.
Ivanhoe chairperson Robert Friedland said a long-term, sustainable supply of electricity is essential to the company’s vision to develop Kamoa-Kakula in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
“The upgrading programme is a significant public–private partnership, which is vital to secure sustainable, clean electricity for the Congolese people and for the development of a tier one copper mine at Kamoa-Kakula,” he noted.
Friedland further highlighted that hydropower, “with its virtues of being clean and renewable”, was the best energy solution to support the company’s development priorities as it continued to seek ways of reducing its impact on the environment, while producing copper.
Mwadingusha is the first of three hydropower plants that Ivanhoe and Zijin plan to upgrade.
Upgrading of the other two existing hydroelectric power plants – Koni and Nzilo 1 – is expected to start once the upgrade of Mwadingusha is completed.
The Mwadingusha and Koni plants are in cascade, with Koni directly downstream from Mwadingusha on the Lufira river at the mouth of Lake Tshangalele, north of Likasi and 250 km northeast of the Kamoa mine development site.
The Nzilo 1 plant is on the Lualaba river, downstream of Nzilo Lake and north of the city of Kolwezi, 40 km from Kamoa.