JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The hot commissioning of the core of the first train of TSX-listed Katanga Mining’s new whole ore leach (WOL) processing facility has been completed.
The company in September 2015 suspended the processing of copper and cobalt at subsidiary Kamoto Copper Company’s (KCC’s) copper and cobalt mine, in Lualaba province, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to allow for the construction of the WOL project.
Over the next three months, KCC will focus on the progressive ramp-up and commissioning of the remainder of the first train, aiming to achieve full capacity production on the first train by the end of the first quarter of 2018.
“We are very pleased to have met our anticipated budget and timetable for commissioning the first train of our new plant and are optimistic that the tangible improvements from using a WOL processing circuit will be seen in the near future,” Katanga CEO Johnny Blizzard said in an update to shareholders this week.
The construction of the second train of the WOL plant is also on schedule and budget, with hot commissioning expected to kick off in the second half of 2018.
Katanga has also approved $15.8-million in capital expenditure (capex) to engineer and build a facility to reduce throughput bottlenecks at KCC’s existing cobalt processing circuit in an effort to align with the life-of-mine cobalt production plan of 30 000 t/y.
The hot commissioning of the cobalt debottlenecking project is expected in the fourth quarter of 2018.
About $49-million has been allocated for cobalt product dryers as part of the cobalt production circuit, while capex of $237-million has also been approved for 2018 and 2019 to build a sulphuric acid and sulphur dioxide production plant at KCC by the second half of 2019.
With the successful completion of the WOL plant and the cobalt upgrade project, Katanga expects to have a first-quartile cost position within the global copper industry cost curve.
The company forecasts copper production of 150 000 t in 2018, doubling to 300 000 t in 2019 and 2020.
Cobalt output of 11 000 t is expected during the 2018 financial year, rising to 34 000 t and 32 000 t in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Katanga's TSX-listed stock jumped nearly 50% on Tuesday morning, triggering a single stock circuit breaker to halt trading in Katanga's equity, before trading was resumed several minutes later. The single stock circuit breaker system, first put in place in 2012, allows regulators to stop trading in an individual security that moves wildly, unlike broader circuit breakers, which halt trading in the entire market when there is extremely volatile trading.
Early in the afternoon session, the stock traded at C$1.67 apiece, still up some 25%.