Ivanhoe Mines Executive Chairman Robert Friedland and Chief Executive Officer Lars-Eric Johansson this week welcomed the positive findings of an expanded, independent preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the development of the Kakula Discovery at the Kamoa-Kakula Project on the Central African Copperbelt, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Given the dramatic expansion and upgrading of the copper resources delineated at Kamoa-Kakula during the past year, the new PEA incorporates potential increased mining rates that are 50% higher than the rates used in the December 2016 PEA. The Kamoa-Kakula Project – a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin Mining Group and the DRC government – has been independently ranked as the world’s largest high-grade, major copper discovery by international mining consultant Wood Mackenzie.
The three potential development scenarios examined include:
Initial mine development scenario. The Kakula 2017 PEA evaluates the development of a 6 Mt/y underground mine and surface processing complex at the Kakula Deposit – a discovery announced in early 2016 – as the project’s first phase of development.
Expanded, two-mine development scenario. The Kakula 2017 PEA also includes an option for an integrated, 12 Mt/y, two-stage development, beginning with initial production from the Kakula Mine, to be followed by a subsequent, separate underground mining operation at the nearby Kansoko Mine, along with the construction of a smelter.
Kamoa 2017 pre-feasibility study (PFS). The Kamoa 2017 PFS evaluates the development of the Kansoko Mine as a stand-alone 6 Mt/y underground mine and surface processing complex that would be supplied with ore from the planned development of the Kansoko Sud and Kansoko Centrale areas of the Kamoa Deposit, which were discovered in 2008. The PFS refines the findings of the Kamoa March 2016 PFS, which envisaged a production rate of 3 Mt/y.
The Kakula 2017 PEA and Kamoa 2017 PFS were independently prepared by OreWin Pty Ltd, Amec Foster Wheeler E&C Services Inc, SRK Consulting Inc, Stantec Consulting LLC, Golder Associates Ltd, KGHM Cuprum R&D Centre Ltd and DRA Global.
While not evaluated in the new PEA, Ivanhoe and Zijin also are exploring potential options to accelerate future production by building the Kakula and Kansoko mines concurrently as well as expansions to 18 Mt/y and beyond as exploration progresses at Kamoa-Kakula and on Ivanhoe’s 100%-owned exploration licences in the Western Forelands area to the west of Kamoa-Kakula, where drilling recently started.
“Kamoa-Kakula is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most disruptive Tier One copper project in the world today,” said Friedland. “The 12 Mt/y development scenario clearly shows the economic potential for a phased development plan for Kamoa-Kakula to become one of the largest copper mines in existence. However, we are confident that there are more high-grade copper discoveries to be made in the area and the ultimate scale of operations at Kamoa-Kakula will be much larger. The exceptionally high copper grades, thickness and continuity of the Kakula Discovery really distinguish this project from anything we have seen during our 35-plus years in the industry. These unique characteristics should allow us to build a world-scale copper mine with an initial capital cost expected to be far lower than other operations of this size.”