CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – Ivanplats CEO Robert Friedland said on Wednesday his company was developing Africa’s largest copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“This is the project that we think will set the mark for the rebirth of the mining industry in the Congo,” he told delegates at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
Friedland said that the high-grade orebody discovery at Kamoa was 22 km long and up to 12 km wide, with the flat lying body coming to within 30 m of the surface. The size could increase further as drilling was still taking place. Friedland noted that the geology of the discovery was similar to the Polish Kupferschiefer mine.
Friedland said that while some people believed that the African copper belt in the DRC had reached its exploration maturity, Ivanplats chose in 1996 to stake an area west of the copper-rich Kolwazi district that had not previously been fully investigated, which led to the Kamoa discovery.
With the application for a mining licence filed with the DRC government in November, Friedland said the intention was to start mining the area in a series of openpits but that ultimately an underground mine would be developed and include a smelter.
Friedland said he believed that the discovery was significant and that it was “a mine whose life will be measured in generations as opposed to decades”.
In addition, Friedland confirmed that Ivanhoe had further increased its interests in the DRC as it had reached an agreement to acquire and redevelop the Kipushi mine of which it would have a 68% interest.
“The in-situ resources that remain at Kipushi are some 28-million tons of over 20% zinc and close to 2% copper, lead, silver and germanium. However the existing resources are not very important to us. The reason we became fascinated with this deposit is the ‘big zinc’ and the existing mining infrastructure.”
Friedland said that $4-million to $5-million of capital investment would allow the company to mine the large untapped zinc discovery that has been identified at Kipushi.
While the size of the deposit is still being determined Friedland believed it was the world’s highest-grade zinc body.