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

Aerial image of the Kamoa-Kakula project

15th October 2021

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Kamoa-Kakula copper project.

Location
The Kolwezi district of Lualaba province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Project Owner/s
Kamoa Copper, a joint venture (JV) between base and precious metals developer Ivanhoe Mines, 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 Kamoa-Kakula Integrated Development Plan 2020 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. For this option, 110-million tonnes will be mined at an average grade of 5.22% copper, producing 8.5-million tonnes of high-grade copper concentrate and containing about 10.8-billion pounds of copper.

Kakula-Kansoko
The Kakula-Kansoko 2020 PFS evaluates the development of mining activities at the Kansoko deposit in addition to the Kakula mine, initially at a rate of 1.6-million tonnes a year, to supply the concentrator at Kakula, eventually ramping up to six-million tonnes a year as the reserves at Kakula are depleted.

Kamoa-Kakula
The Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA assesses an additional development option of mining several deposits on the Kamoa-Kakula project as an integrated, 19-million-tonne-a-year mining, processing and smelting complex, built in multiple stages.

An initial six-million-tonne-a-year mining operation will be established at the Kakula mine on the Kakula deposit, which will be followed by a separate six-million-tonne-a-year mining operation at the Kansoko mine. A third six-million-tonne-a-year mine will then be established at the Kakula West mine, in addition to a fourth initial mine in the Kamoa North area operating at one-million tonnes a year. The processing plant will be built in five modules of 3.8-million tonnes a year, with an ultimate capacity of one-million tonnes a year.

As the resources at the Kakula, Kansoko and Kakula West mines are mined out, production will begin sequentially at five other mines in the Kamoa North area to maintain throughput of 19-million tonnes a year to the existing concentrator and smelter complex.

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 of copper concentrate a year.

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 NPV, 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
The initial production of copper concentrate at the Kakula mine processing plant began on May 25, 2021.

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

Latest Developments
Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 2 concentrator plant, designed to double copper production to about 400 000 t/y, is proceeding ahead of schedule. The project team now expects to start operations of the Phase 2 concentrator plant in the second quarter of 2022, compared with the current guidance of the third quarter of 2022.

Kamoa Copper CEO Mark Farren has stated that the construction of the Phase 2 concentrator plant is progressing “very well” and that the project team is working hard to complete the project ahead of schedule, similar to what was done with the Phase 1 plant.

The Phase 2, 3.8-million-tonne-a-year concentrator plant is a carbon copy of the Phase 1 concentrator plant and is being built alongside the Phase 1 plant. All long-lead items of equipment, structural steel, platework and mechanical equipment for the Phase 2 plant have been delivered to site or are on route to the site. As of the end of September 2021, the Phase 2 plant was more than 50% complete.

At the end of September, Kamoa-Kakula had surface ore stockpiles totalling 3.66-million tonnes grading 4.73% copper and containing more than 173 000 t of copper (or 381.4-million pounds of copper). These stockpiles are in place to help ensure a smooth and efficient ramp up of the Phase 2 concentrator to steady-state production during 2022.

Meanwhile, the second concentrate filter press began operations on October 3, enabling the Phase 1 plant to produce copper concentrate above design parameters. The second filter allows for Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 1 concentrator to take advantage of the exceptionally high-grade copper ore being processed directly from Kakula’s underground mining operations and surface stockpiles, as well as produce more copper than the estimated design output of 200 000 t/y. Kamoa Copper has a third filter press on order that will be installed as part of the Phase 2 concentrator expansion.

The company has said that the additional filtration capacity will also enable Kamoa-Kakula’s operations team to find the ‘sweet spot’ between copper recoveries and concentrate copper grades.

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), Wood (mineral resources estimation) and Kamoa Copper and SNEL, together with Stucky SA (engineering procurement and construction management – Turbine 5) and Voith Hydro (contractor Turbine 5), have started a technical assessment to define the scope of work and associated-costs estimate.

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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