With a prefeasibility study (PFS) already under way, Central Copper Resources has started to develop its first mining project − the Mbamba Kilenda (MK) copper project − in a new copper province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The MK project is located on the western side of the DRC, within 70 km of Kinshasa, and sits on the West Copper Belt which extends over 1 400 km from Angola, through the DRC, and Congo-Brazzaville to Gabon.
MK has been identified as the first project, expected to be within the eastern 15 km zone of the overall 85 km of strike that makes up total project area. Central Copper notes that historic exploration defined the mineralisation during the 1950s and 1960s, with future exploration focusing on resource extension to enable the addition of further phases of development within the project.
Previous drilling has proved high-grade oxide copper, zinc, lead and silver mineralisation, which is open to the west of the maiden resource. Therefore, the extension of this resource would be logical through step-out drilling with an infill programme to upgrade the resource classification leading to an expanded and upgraded Joint Ore Reserves Committee classification.
The unique nature of the orebody is defined as a shallow mineral continuity in a high-grade horizontal seam, which enables the use of low-cost, bulk mining methods with the advantage of automated operation.
Test work campaigns have identified the use of dense media separation and flotation in combination, generating two concentrate products – a direct shippable ore (DSO) from the gravity circuit, and a cleaner, higher-grade flotation concentrate.
A scoping level assessment performed this year shows a larger overall project broken down into five phases.
Phase A involves trial mining through a single decline and DSO material generation, while Phase 1 will involve a 1.2-million-tonne-a-year run-of-mine (RoM) operation, producing between 28 000 t/y and 32 000 t/y of copper in concentrate.
Phase 2 will double RoM with a resource extension within 15 km strike, while Phase 3 will again double RoM to greater than four-million tonnes a year with greater than 100 000 t/y of copper metal to be produced.
The final phase, Phase 4, will involve the establishment of a smelter or refinery for producing copper metal.
Central Copper CEO Kevin van Wouw says the development of the company’s first project on the eastern end of the strike area is the company’s priority, initially including the completion of a prefeasibility and then a final feasibility study.
“We intend our first project to bring more than one-million tonnes of copper in reserve, while at the same time the exploration and development of new project targets in the remainder of the strike length will be considered.”
The company’s strategy is to complete the PFS by October, during which time partnerships or funding will continue to drive regional exploration and commence trial mining.