Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/germanium mine, Democratic Republic of Congo – update

10th February 2023 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/germanium mine, Democratic Republic of Congo – update

Name of the Project
Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/germanium mine.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Project Owner/s
Kipushi Corporation (KICO), a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (68%) and DRC State-owned mining company Gécamines (32%).

Project Description
Kipushi will be the world’s highest-grade major zinc mine, with average grade of 36.4% zinc over the first five years.

The 2022 feasibility study focuses on the mining of Kipushi’s zinc-rich Big Zinc and Southern Zinc zones.

The feasibility study envisages the restart of underground mining operations, and the construction of a new concentrator facility on surface with a processing capacity of 800 000 t/y of ore, producing on average 240 000 t/y of zinc contained in concentrate, over a 14-year mine life.

The project will benefit from significant existing surface and underground infrastructure to allow for substantially lower capital costs than comparable development projects.

The 2022 feasibility study does not include any of the copper-rich mineral resources delineated to date and assumes that revenue is attributable to only zinc, with no by-product credits.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
At a long-term zinc price of $1.20/lb, the project has an after-tax net present value, at an 8% real discount rate, of $941-million and an after-tax real internal rate of return of 40.9%, with a payback of 2.3 years.

Capital Expenditure
Preproduction capital costs have been estimated at $382-million.

Planned Start/End Date
The redevelopment of Kipushi is based on a two-year construction timeline. Ivanhoe expects the project to be completed by the third quarter of 2024.

Latest Developments
Ivanhoe has announced initial capital for Kipushi of $380-million in 2023/24. 

Construction of the Kipushi mine is under way, with the processing plant scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2024.

Long-lead equipment items have been ordered and manufacturing is under way, while earthworks and civil construction activities take place on the surface.

The rehabilitation activities for the underground mine are complete, while drilling and blasting activities have started for the development of the Big Zinc orebody. 

As the project has advanced into execution, Ivanhoe has said that the project team has updated the budget from the feasibility study published in 2022 to reflect work packages placed to date, and incorporating any changes associated with the scope and in line with inflationary pressures.

Of the $380-million capital budget to completion, about $95-million has been committed so far. 

Ivanhoe has indicated that offtake discussions, including a proposed $250-million prepayment financing facility, have advanced to final draft term sheets. These have been received from shortlisted parties and are under review by Kipushi’s shareholders.

The agreements are intended to be completed, as well as a final, revised joint venture agreement between Kipushi Holding and Gécamines, during the first half of the year.

The company also is evaluating a possible $50-million working capital facility for Kipushi.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
OreWin, MSA, SRK Consulting (South Africa) and MDM (Technical) Africa, a division of Wood (technical report).

Contact Details for Project Information
Ivanhoe Mines (North America), tel +1 604 688 6630/+27 11 088 4300 (South Africa) or email