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Kamoa-Kakula copper project, Democratic Republic of Congo – update

23rd October 2020

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Kamoa-Kakula copper project.

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

Project Owner/s
Ivanhoe Mines.

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
Only 260 m of tunnelling remains until the access drives are connected at the Kakula project.

The northern and southern dual access drives are expected to be connected by next month, allowing for highly productive stoping operations to begin in high-grade zones of the mine.

Ivanhoe co-chairperson Robert Friedland says the development of the dual access drives from Kakula’s northern decline has entered a zone of chalcocite-rich ore grading up to 11% copper over a height of 6.6 m, which serves as confirmation of the exceptional quality of the Kakula resource and is situated at the apex of any ranking worldwide.

Linking up the two access drives will open up important high-grade copper reserves and allow for ventilation to flow through dedicated underground airways. Additionally, the merger of the northern and southern declines will help facilitate a ramp-up in production and increase efficiency of the mine’s underground logistics.

At the start of September, Ivanhoe’s underground development of Kakula’s access drives totalled 1 842 m.

Meanwhile, Ivanhoe says construction is progressing well on the Kakula concentrator plant, with first production expected in July next year.

The concentrator plant will initially have a capacity of 3.8-million tonnes a year. The company has also ordered long-lead items for a second 3.8-million-tonne-a-year concentrator plant.

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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