$900m DRC copper mine to come on stream in '09

6th February 2008 By: Jade Davenport - Creamer Media Correspondent

It was announced on Wednesday that mine production at the $900-million Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would begin next year.

Lundin Mining Senior vice president of projects Paul Conibear stated that the Tenke Fungurume project, which had an inferred resource of 235-million tons of copper, would mine the world’s largest and richest deposit of copper-cobalt.

Lundin Mining held a 24,75% interest in the Tenke Fungurume project while the company's operating partner, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold held a 57,75% interest and La Generale des Carrieres et des Mines, the DRC State-mining company, held the remaining 17,5% interest.

Conibear stated that construction of the initial phase of operations was well under way, although he admitted that production start-up was slightly behind the initial schedule of the fourth quarter 2008.

This was due to due to delays in construction works. Nevertheless, he said that to date approximately 55% of design and 70% of procurement had been completed.

In addition some 15% of the construction work has been completed, which included the bulk earthworks at the plant site and shop areas as well as the concrete work.
Conibear said that the project was about 40% complete overall.

Lundin Mining had a 30% funding obligation through its agreement with its partners.

Completion of the first phase of the project in 2009 would provide production of 115 000 t/y of copper concentrate and 8 000 t/y of cobalt from an open-pit mine.

Based on the current mine plan, ore grades for the first ten years were expected to average 4,6% copper and 0,4%cobalt.

Conibear enthused that Lundin Mining had some of the lowest operating costs in the industry, evidenced by the profitable performance of the company’s six operating mines, and the company would strive to achieve very low costs once the Tenke Fungurume mine was in production.

Tenke Fungurume had a 40-year mine of life and Conibear stated that Lundin Mining had an aggressive expansion programme, which would aim to increase production 400 000 t/y of copper in the next few years.

The mine also had good infrastructure in that it was located near a main road and was near the transmission lines of the DRC’s main electricity grid.

Conibear also stated that aggressive exploration work was in progress on the Tenke Fungurume mineral concessions with the aim of upgrading resources to reserves to support expansion plans. To date, 31 000 m had been drilled and nine rigs were currently active across the concession.