TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines has completed more than 8 km of underground development at the Kakula copper mine, in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The company on Tuesday said this was 1.7 km ahead of schedule.
The project was also on track to set a new monthly development record of 1.3 km of advancement for February.
The development ore was being transported to surface and stored on pre-production stockpiles. The company estimated it would have 1.5-million tonnes of high-grade ore, and an additional 700 000 t of material grading between 1% and 3% copper, prior to the start of production in the third quarter of 2021.
Ivanhoe said more than 4 400 employees and contractors were helping to build the Kakula mine, of which 90% were Congolese nationals.
Meanwhile, the average feed grade over the first five years of the Kakula mine’s operation was anticipated to be 6.8% copper, and 5.5% for the remainder of the 25-year mine life.
The mine would initially process 3.8-million tonnes of ore a year.
In parallel with the construction of the Kamoa-Kakula Phase 1 construction work – which is the Kakula mine – work was under way on an independent definitive feasibility study (DFS) for Kakula and an updated integrated development plan (IDP) for the whole Kamoa-Kakula complex.
The Kakula DFS would provide an increased level of accuracy for the project economics for the initial phase of mine development at Kakula. The IDP would include details on the planned expansion phases for the greater Kamoa-Kakula mining complex, incorporating updates for mineral resources, production rates and economic analysis.