The newly published integrated development plan (IDP) of the Kamoa-Kakula operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has revealed the “true, long-life nature” of the complex that will produce high-grade copper metal for the better part of this century.
The updated IDP consists of a prefeasibility study (PFS) for the Phase 3 and 4 expansions of Kamoa-Kakula over a 33-year life, as well as an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) that includes a life-of-mine extension case to 42 years overall.
"In a world where it is exceedingly rare for tier-one orebodies to be discovered, developed and mined ... Kamoa-Kakula stands out as a beacon of what is possible given the exceptionally hard work of a ‘United Nations’ of highly dedicated people," said Ivanhoe Mines executive co-chairperson Robert Friedland on Monday.
“This study marks the culmination of a 26-year journey that began with the conviction of visionary geologists and now has become one of the world's leading, lowest-carbon emitting, long-life suppliers of vital copper metal, which humankind desperately requires as we transition to a more sustainable future underpinned by renewable energy,” he added.
The 2023 PFS considers a staged increase in production capacity from the current nominal throughput rate of 7.6-million tonnes a year to a total of 19.2-million tonnes a year by 2030. First, the throughput of the Phase 1 and 2 concentrators will increase to 9.2-million tonnes by the imminent completion of a debottlenecking programme.
Phase 3 includes the ongoing construction of a new five-million-tonne-a-year concentrator, located at Kamoa, which is targeted to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2024. The expansion to 14.2-million tonnes a year processing capacity is forecast to increase copper production to an average of 620 000 t/y at a cash cost of $1.15/lb.
As part of the Phase 3 expansion, a direct-to-blister (DBF) flash smelter is under construction to produce about 500 000 t of 99+% pure copper metal, and the replacement of Turbine #5 at the Inga II hydroelectric power station is well under way. The turbine replacement will supply an additional 178 MW of clean hydroelectric power to the national grid and provide power for Phase 3.
Phase 4, planned for later in the decade, will ramp up production capacity to 19.2-million tonnes a year, pushing copper production to more than half-a-million tonnes a year through 2047.
The 19.2-million tonnes a year expansion yields an aftertax net present value (NPV), using an 8% discount, of $19.1-billion.
Ivanhoe reported that it had already spent $225-million on work related to the Phase 3 expansion and that a further $3.04-billion would be needed for the expansion. Of that, $2.53-billion will be spent over the next two years up to the commissioning of the Phase 3 concentrator.
Meanwhile, the Kamoa-Kakula 2023 PEA evaluates a further nine-year extension to mine life, from four additional mines, maintaining production from the Phase 1 to 4 concentrators until beyond 2060.
This study, which reaffirms the multi-generational potential of the copper complex, yielded an NPV of $20.2-billion.
‘EXAMPLE OF MODERN MINING’
Ivanhoe president Marna Cloete said that Kamoa-Kakula had the potential to be an example of how modern mining must be done – in partnership with local governments and communities, and with a focus on transparency and environmental, social and governance best practices.
"The Democratic Republic of Congo is blessed with exceptional hydropower potential, world-class geology, and a young, vibrant population ready to enter the workforce as the next generation of accomplished engineers, geologists and skilled technicians.
“Kamoa-Kakula now has generated over 12 000 jobs from its operations and construction activities, with over 95% of those positions filled by Congolese nationals. We are endeavouring to continue this excellent track record of local employment and training with the construction of the Kamoa Centre of Excellence. The centre will create a sustainable and community-focused higher learning environment, offering international degrees and diplomas in the heart of the Lualaba province in the DRC,” said Cloete.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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