Critical Metals progressing operational goals at DRC project

15th May 2023 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Senior Contributing Editor Online

Mining investment company Critical Metals has been progressing its operational goals at the company’s Molulu copper/cobalt asset, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), since announcing the start of production in January, with the latest grade samples above 8.3%, confirming the potential high profitability of the project, CEO Russell Fryer says in an operational update on activities.

“I am particularly proud of our environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts at Molulu, where we are committed to the local community. I have seen first-hand the role we are playing in supporting the local area and the economy.

“We have seen in recent months disappointing news about the mining industry in the DRC, this is a trend that the whole Critical Metals team is committed to challenge,” he says.

Critical Metals has mined over 6 500 t of oxide ore at an average grade of 3%, as measured by its geologist using a handheld X-ray fluorescent (XRF).

After surveying the Molulu copper grades and market, the technical team has decided to focus mining on the high-grade sulphide copper ore. This high-grade sulphide copper orebody will be exposed in the pits that have begun the dewatering process.

To illustrate why the company is focusing on the sulphide zones, a grab sample was taken from the big pit that is currently being dewatered. This sample was analysed using a handheld XRF and the copper result was 8.36%.

Owing to the much higher grade of sulphide copper ore, mining the sulphide zones has the potential to increase profitability by orders of magnitude above the oxide-only mining.

When the drilling programme begins, which the company expects will be in June, the team will drill through the oxide zones in the sulphide areas to expand the resource, and to create a Joint Ore Reserves Committee (Jorc) report.

Oxide mining will continue but will no longer be the focus of production.

The latest mapping and geophysics programmes have reconfirmed large copper and cobalt potential.

There are several identified areas where the host geology is favourable to find large copper and cobalt zones. The mapping data exercise was completed last week and will be used in conjunction with the findings from the geophysics and induced-polarisation (IP) data collection that is under way.

Critical Metals plans on continuing the geophysics analysis until the end of May as the company has identified several areas and anomalies from its geophysics programme.

The mapping, geophysics and IP programmes are expected to be completed by the end of May, with the drilling programme to begin in June. These drilling results will be used to form the basis of a Jorc report.

The dewatering of both sulphide and copper pits has begun. First, a trench has been dug from the smaller pit so the water can decant naturally to a local stream. In addition to the trench, a large watering pump was bought two weeks ago and is en route to Molulu.

The company expects to begin dewatering the big pit with the pump this week and expects both pits will be dewatered within 30 days.

A number of potential buyers of copper ore have recently visited Molulu and took samples for testing in their plants. First sales of oxide ore could begin as soon as the bridge is installed, and the road rehabilitation completed. The company expects these tasks to be complete by the end of the month.

The rehabilitation of the road has begun and is expected to be completed by the end of May.


When the company acquired the Molulu asset in September 2022, there were no DRC-based employees. Owing to the rapid expansion of the mine activities, there are now 30 employees who, with the exception of two, are DRC citizens.

Critical Metals estimates that once drilling begins during the summer, and the mining tonnage increases, it will have over 40 full-time employees and about 20 casual labourers.

Most of the food consumed at Molulu is sourced and bought from local villagers. This has created a small but growing economy in the area, the company acclaims.

Critical Metals, through the Molulu mine, pays its workers a significantly higher rate than the average rate in the DRC, the company posits.

“In addition, the company provides two or three meals per day to its employees, both permanent and casual. In total, we currently feed about almost 50 people daily and expect this to increase,” it outlines.

All employees, either full-time or casual labour, are provided with standard personal protective equipment to maintain health and safety.

A daily health, safety and environment meeting is held at 06:30 before workers deploy to their areas to ensure compliance.

Critical Metals has appointed a full-time health and safety coordinator who is based on site.