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Kamoa-Kakula copper project, Democratic Repubic of Congo

15th January 2021

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Kamoa-Kakula copper project.

The Kolwezi district of Lualaba province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Project Owner/s
The Kamoa-Kakula project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe, with 39.6% ownership; Zijin Mining Group, with 39.6% ownership; Crystal River Global, with 0.8% ownership; and the DRC government, with 20% ownership.

Project Description
Ivanhoe Mines has announced outstanding economic results in the independent integrated development plan for the tier-one Kamoa-Kakula copper project.

The plan comprises three development scenarios: the Kakula definitive feasibility study (DFS), the Kakula-Kansoko prefeasibility study (PFS) and the Kamoa-Kakula preliminary economic assessment (PEA).

The Kakula DFS proposes the development of a Stage 1, six-million-tonne-a-year underground mine and surface processing complex at the Kakula deposit, with a capacity of 7.6-million tonnes a year built in two modules of 3.8-million tonnes a year; the first module is  under advanced construction. For this option, the DFS envisages average production of 284 000 t of copper over an estimated 21-year mine life.

Kakula will be mined primarily using the drift-and-fill method.

The Kakula 2020 DFS mine access will be through twin declines on the north side and a single decline on the south side of the deposit. One of the north declines will serve as the primary mine access, while the other decline is for the conveyor haulage system, which was recently commissioned.

The primary ore-handling system will include a perimeter conveyor system connected to truck load-out points along the north side of the deposit. The perimeter conveyor system will terminate at the main conveyor decline.

The Kakula-Kansoko PFS evaluates the mining of 1.6-million tonnes a year from the Kansoko mine, in addition to six-million tonnes a year from Kakula, to feed a 7.6-million-tonne-a-year processing plant at Kakula. For this option, the PFS envisages average production of 331 000 t/y of copper over an average 37-year mine life.

The Kamoa-Kakula PEA evaluates an integrated, multistaged development to achieve a 19-million-tonne-a-year production rate. Initial production will start from the proposed six-million-tonne-a-year Kakula mine, followed by separate underground mining operations at the nearby six-million-tonne-a-year Kansoko mines, the six-million-tonne-a-year Kakula West and one-million-tonne-a-year Kamoa North mine, along with the construction of a direct-to-blister smelter at the Kakula plant site that will be able to process one-million tonnes of copper concentrate a year.  

The Kamoa North Area comprises five separate mines, which will be sequentially developed as resources are depleted elsewhere to maintain the production rate of up to 19-million tonnes a year over a mine life of more than 40 years.

Each mining operation is expected to be a separate underground mine, with a shared processing facility and surface infrastructure located at Kakula. Material will be transported to the Kakula processing complex using a system of overland conveyors. Included in this scenario is the construction of a direct-to-blister copper smelter, with a capacity of one-million tonnes a year of copper concentrate.

The phased expansion scenario to 19-million tonnes a year would position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s second-biggest copper mining complex, with peak copper production of more than 800 000 t/y.

Potential Job Creation
Once the two processing plants at Kakula are operating, Ivanhoe expects to employ almost 2 000 permanent Kamoa employees.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The Kakula DFS yields an after-tax net present value (NPV), at an 8% discount rate, of $5.5-billion and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 77% over a 21-year mine life, with a payback of 2.3 years.

The Kakula-Kansoko PFS yields an after-tax NPV, at an 8% discount rate, of $6.6-billion and an IRR of 69% over a 37-year mine life, with a payback of 2.5 years.

The Kamoa-Kakula PEA yields a potential after-tax net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of $11.1-billion and an IRR of 56% over a mine life of more than 40 years, with a payback of 3.6 years.

Capital Expenditure
The Kakula DFS estimates peak funding at $775-million, remaining initial capital costs at $646-million and expansion capital costs at $594-million.

The Kakula-Kansoko PFS estimates peak funding at $848-million, remaining initial capital costs at $695-million and expansion capital costs at $750-million.

The Kamoa-Kakula PEA estimates peak funding at $784-million, remaining initial capital costs at $715-million and expansion capital costs at $4.46-billion.

Planned Start/End Date
Initial copper concentrate production from the Kakula project is scheduled for the third quarter of 2021.

The expansion of the Kakula processing plant will be brought forward from the first quarter of 2023 to the second quarter of 2022.

Latest Developments
Ivanhoe Mines has said that underground development at the Kamoa-Kakula copper project resulted in the mining and stockpiling of 269 000 t of ore, grading 5.36% copper, in December.

The tonnage was 7.6% higher than November, while the copper grade was 10.5% higher.

The project’s preproduction surface stockpiles from the Kakula and Kansoko mines now contain about 1.52-million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore at an estimated blended grade of 4.03% copper.

To date, the stockpile contains more than 61 000 t of copper. Ivanhoe plans to have 125 000 t of contained copper stockpiled prior to the planned start of processing activity in July.

Underground development at the project remains 10 km ahead of plan, with 2.7 km of development having been completed in December –  a new monthly record at about 620 m more than the prior monthly record achieved in October.

Ivanhoe has completed almost 30 km of underground development at the project.  

“After more than 26 years of continuous efforts, Ivanhoe and its joint venture partners are less than six months away from initial production at Kamoa-Kakula – the first world-scale copper discovery on the African continent in generations. This year’s transformation marks the beginning of the next chapter of our journey that began in 1994 and has involved thousands of dedicated and talented people,” Ivanhoe co-chairperson Robert Friedland has said

The company envisions an initial 3.8-million-tonne-a-year operation at a feed grade of 6% copper. Phases 1 and 2 of the project are forecast to produce about 400 000 t/y of copper.

The project’s phased expansion scenario to 19-million tonnes a year will make the Kamoa-Kakula project the world’s second-biggest copper mining complex, with peak copper production of more than 800 000 t/y.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
OreWin (overall report preparation, mining, logistics, power and economic analysis); China Nerin Engineering (smelter design); DRA Global (mine surface infrastructure and metallurgical processing); Epoch Resources (tailings storage facility design); Golder Associates (hydrology models and recommendations); KGHM Cuprum R&D Centre (technical adviser on certain mining methods and geotechnical); Outotec Oyj (smelter technology); Paterson and Cooke (paste backfill plant design and surface/underground paste distribution system); SRK Consulting  (mine geotechnical recommendations); Stantec Consulting International, (mining and mineral reserves); and Wood (mineral resources estimation).

Contact Details for Project Information
Ivanhoe Mines, tel +1604 688 6630 (North America), +27 11 088 4300 (South Africa) or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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