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Kamoa-Kakula copper project, Democratic Republic of Congo

6th November 2020

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Kamoa-Kakula copper project.

Location
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).

Kakula
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.

Kakula-Kansoko
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.

Kamoa-Kakula
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
The underground development at Ivanhoe Mines' Kamoa-Kakula copper project totalled 2 172 m in October.

This marks another new monthly record, bringing total underground development to more than 24.7 km – about 7.9 km ahead of schedule, the company has noted.

The development work included 1 809 m at the Kakula mine and 363 m at the Kansoko mine.

At Kakula, both main access tunnels (drives) being advanced from the southern decline, and the spiral access drive being advanced from the northern decline, have accessed the high-grade zone near the centre of the deposit.

Kakula’s main access drives between the northern and southern declines have less than 100 m remaining before they are connected (holed) in the high-grade centre of the deposit. The holing will significantly increase ventilation to the centre of the orebody, allowing for additional mining crews to begin highly productive mining operations in the high-grade ore zones.

In addition to advancing the main connecting access drives, underground mining crews at Kakula are focused on preparing for the development of the high-grade, drift-and-fill mining blocks in the centre of the orebody. Opening up the mining footprint for these areas entails development work in areas of low-, medium- and high-grade ore, and is designed to coincide with the startup of the processing plant next year. This will enable mining crews to deliver significant tonnage of high-grade ore directly from Kakula’s underground workings to the processing plant.

Overall progress of Kamoa-Kakula’s first-phase 3.8-million-tonne-a-year mining and milling operation, including mine infrastructure, concentrator plant and surface infrastructure, is about 58% complete.

Construction of the project’s 3.8-million-tonne-a-year concentrator plant is advancing rapidly and is about 28% complete. The concentrator is expected to be mechanically complete in the second quarter of 2021, with first copper concentrate production scheduled for July 2021.

The Kansoko mine is being developed by training crews and will be a supplemental source of ore for Phase 2 of the project’s development when the Kakula concentrator processing capacity doubles to 7.6-million tonnes a year in 2022.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
DFS/PFS/PEA:
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 info@ivanhoemines.com.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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