Tag Archives: Kamoa-Kakula

Kamoa-Kakula copper production kicks off

Ivanhoe Mines has announced the start of copper concentrate production at the Phase 1, 3.8 Mt/y Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, several months ahead of schedule.

First ore was introduced into the concentrator plant on May 20 to perform initial hot commissioning tests on the ball mills and other processing equipment. The initial mill feed grade reached approximately 4% Cu shortly after start-up.

As of May 25, 5-6% Cu ore was being conveyed directly from Kakula’s underground mining operations to the run-of-mine stockpile and the concentrator. Based on extensive test work, the concentrator is expected to produce a very high-grade, clean concentrate grading approximately 57% Cu, with extremely low arsenic levels, the company says.

Robert Friedland, Ivanhoe Mines Co-Chairman, said: “This is a historic moment for Ivanhoe Mines and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Discovering and delivering a copper province of this scale, grade and outstanding environmental, social and governance credentials, ahead of schedule and on budget, is a unicorn in the copper mining business. This accomplishment reflects the outstanding cooperation of thousands of individuals, and all of our joint-venture partners at Kamoa-Kakula.”

He added: “Although this exploration journey started well over two decades ago, it also is noteworthy that the Kakula deposit itself was discovered a little over five years ago, which is remarkable progress by the mining industry’s glacial standards from first drill hole to a new major mining operation.”

The initiation of production puts Ivanhoe on the path to establish Kamoa-Kakula as the second largest copper mining complex in the world, according to Friedland.

“What really excites our geologists is the profound potential to find additional Kamoa-Kakula-like copper discoveries on our massive Western Foreland exploration licences right next door, in an identical geologic setting,” he said.

Co-Chairman, Miles Sun, added: “The inception of Phase 1 is the birth of a copper complex that will benefit generations to come, and we very much look forward to the upcoming phases of expansion and exploration opportunities.

“Huge congratulations to the entire Ivanhoe Mines team and a roaring applause to all the hard-working suppliers and contractors for collectively completing this mammoth undertaking!”

Ivanhoe’s guidance for contained copper in concentrate expected to be produced by the Kamoa-Kakula project for the balance of 2021 assumes a ramp-up from first production in line with published technical disclosures, with contained copper in concentrate output of 80,000-95,000 t.

In April, the Kakula Mine mined 357,000 t of ore grading 5.7% Cu, including 121,000 t grading 8.4% Cu from the mine’s high-grade centre.

Kakula, Ivanhoe says, is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mt/y, ramping up to 7.6 Mt/y in the September quarter of 2022. Phase 1 is expected to produce approximately 200,000 t/y of copper, and phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce approximately 400,000 t/y of copper.

Based on independent benchmarking, the project’s phased expansion scenario to 19 Mt/y would position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s second-largest copper mining complex, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 t.

Given the current copper price environment, Ivanhoe and its partner Zijin are exploring the acceleration of the Kamoa-Kakula Phase 3 concentrator expansion from 7.6 Mt/y to 11.4 Mt/y, which may be fed from expanded mining operations at Kansoko, or new mining areas at Kamoa North (including the Bonanza Zone) and Kakula West.

The Kamoa-Kakula copper project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).

Alongside this announcement, the company confirmed that Kamoa Copper had appointed Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) CONGO SA, an accredited laboratory service provider, for on-site analytical services. SGS is one of the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification companies. The new assay laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.

Results for various mine, exploration and processing sample types will be reported using a wide range of analytical techniques that are specifically selected to provide accurate and precise results within the time required to efficiently control concentrator and mine processes.

Process control samples will be analysed using portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF) devices with a quick turnaround time for concentrator plant monitoring and control. Metal accounting samples will be analysed by using two simultaneous ICP-OES multi-element instruments. The dual measurement mode of the ICP-OES instrumentation enables the analysis of critical elements such as mercury, arsenic, lead, etc by providing high measurement sensitivity while the combination of two-sample digestion methods (fusion and acid digestion) will cover a wide range of analytic levels, Ivanhoe said.

The high-grade copper samples will be analysed using the classical iodide titration method, which provides good accuracy and precision that is required for the dispatch samples, the company said. Convenient and flexible potentiometric auto titrators provide efficient and accurate results that are fully traceable to international methods and standards.

Kamoa-Kakula copper project continues to track ahead of schedule, Ivanhoe says

Ivanhoe Mines Co-Chair Robert Friedland has hinted in its latest announcement that the Kamoa-Kakula project, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, could produce first copper ahead of its planned September quarter 2021 schedule.

Friedland and fellow Co-Chair, Yufeng “Miles” Sun, said underground development at the Kakula copper mine continued to exceed expectations with more than 18.7 km now complete – 5.5 km ahead of schedule.

In July, the mining team achieved 1,638 m of underground development, which was 257 m ahead of plan for the month.

Ivanhoe says the Kamoa-Kakula project is unique as it combines ultra-high copper grades in thick, shallow and relatively flat-lying deposits – allowing for large-scale, highly-productive, mechanised underground mining operations.

Initial production at the Kakula mine is scheduled for the September quarter of 2021, with Kakula projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mt/y at an estimated average feed grade in excess of 6% Cu over the first five years of operation.

The mine will have one of the most favourable environmental footprints of any tier-one copper mine, according to Ivanhoe. “It will be powered by clean, renewable hydroelectricity and be among the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced,” the company said. “It also will have a relatively tiny surface footprint as approximately 55% of the mine’s tailings will be pumped back into underground workings.” The latter is through a paste backfill plant that Beijing-based CITIC Construction is constructing.

The majority of the development headings at the Kakula mine currently are traversing medium-grade sections of the orebody, with average grades ranging between 3-5% copper. Several development headings are in higher-grade zones averaging between 5-8% copper, and this ore is being placed on a dedicated, high-grade surface stockpile at Kakula North that currently totals some 116,000 t grading an estimated 6.08% Cu. The lower-grade surface stockpiles at Kakula North, Kakula South and Kansoko together contain an additional 446,000 t grading an estimated 2.73% Cu.

As Kakula’s underground development progresses over the next few months, most of the working areas are expected to transition into the higher-grade ore zones near the centre of the deposit that have copper grades approximately 5-8%, Ivanhoe said.

Meanwhile, the high-capacity ore conveyor system at the Kakula North declines, which has a capacity of 2,000 t/h, is undergoing final commissioning and is expected to begin continuous operations shortly. Once this happens, the ore mined in the northern portion of the Kakula mine will be combined and placed on a blended surface stockpile. The Kakula South and Kansoko declines are not equipped with conveyor systems; as such, the ore mined from these deposits will continue to be placed on separate surface stockpiles, based on copper grades.

More than 300 truckloads, consisting mainly of structural steel and equipment for Kakula’s initial 3.8 Mt/y processing plant, are expected to arrive at the mine site before the end of August. Fabrication of the plant’s largest components – two ball mills, each measuring 9.75 m long and 6.1 m in diameter – has been completed at CITIC Heavy Industries’ factory in Luoyang, China, and the third and final shipment of ball mill components is expected to be on site by the end of September.

“The construction team at Kakula, led by Mark Farren, Kamoa Copper’s CEO, has done a fantastic job of keeping the project moving ahead at a rapid pace despite the logistical challenges posed by COVID-19,” Friedland said. “With each passing month, we are getting increasingly confident that we could be producing copper at Kakula ahead of schedule.

“We’re in a good place at the moment, with the vast majority of the major equipment needed to build the mine and processing plant already fabricated, and either at site, or en route to site. Full credit goes to our entire team for implementing and adhering to early and extraordinary measures to safeguard our workforce and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the mine development and construction operations.”

The Kamoa-Kakula copper project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%).

The independent Kakula definitive feasibility study (DFS) and an updated Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for the entire Kamoa-Kakula mining complex is expected to be finalised shortly, Ivanhoe said. The IDP will include details on the planned expansion phases for the greater Kamoa-Kakula mining complex, incorporating updates for mineral resources, production rates and economic analysis.

Basic engineering design and costing for Kamoa-Kakula’s planned Phase 2 expansion, taking production from 3.8 Mt/y to 7.6 Mt/y, is also complete. The scope of facilities for Phase 2 includes underground expansion at the Kakula mine to reach an annual production rate of 6 Mt/y, the expansion of mining operations at the Kansoko mine to a steady state 1.6 Mt/y, a second 3.8 Mt/y concentrator plant at Kakula, as well as associated surface infrastructure to support the expansion at the various sites.

Ivanhoe’s Kakula copper mine takes shape in the DRC

Development is speeding up at Ivanhoe Mines’ majority-owned Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the first access drives approaching Kakula’s initial high-grade ore and earthworks for the surface processing plant having now commenced, the Toronto listed company says.

Mining OEMs will be getting excited too, with tenders for long-lead mining and processing equipment now issued and orders expected to be placed shortly, Ivanhoe said.

In February, Ivanhoe unveiled a prefeasibility study for a 6 Mt/y mine at Kakula, which envisaged an average annual production rate of 291,000 t of copper at a mine-site cash cost of $0.46/Ib ($1,014/t) of copper and total cash cost of $1.11/lb copper for the first 10 years of operations. Annual copper production would step up to 360,000 t by year four, the company said. This came with an initial capital cost of $1.1 billion and would result in an after-tax net present value (8% discount) of $5.4 billion factoring in an average copper price of $3.10/lb. In addition to this, the company unveiled an updated preliminary economic assessment combining both Kakula and Kamoa into an 18 Mt/y operation.

Shortly after this, various stakeholders advanced money for the project, getting Ivanhoe, as the operator, and Zijn Mining, as a partner, to the point where they were both able to fully fund their share of capital costs required to bring the mine into commercial production.

In the latest update on the project, Ivanhoe said “excellent progress” was being made on the construction of the 6 Mt/y Kakula copper mine. Initial copper concentrate production from the Kakula mine currently is scheduled for the September quarter of 2021, with the initial, five-year, detailed mine design now finalised and production scheduling in progress.

The full, detailed mine design will be included in the independent definitive feasibility study that is expected to be published early next year.

Approximately 2,500 employees and contractors now are working at the project as Ivanhoe advances construction of the project’s initial mine at the Kakula deposit.

A total of 647 m of underground development was completed last month, some 100 m more than achieved in April. Lower-grade development ore is being stockpiled on surface near the site of the concentrator plant, which will be used for plant commissioning.

“Mine access drives 1 and 2 (interconnected, parallel tunnels that will provide access to ore zones) are approximately 200 m from Kakula’s initial high-grade mining area, and these priority drives are expected to intersect the higher-grade ore in late July or early August this year,” Ivanhoe said.

The underground development work at Kakula is being performed by mining crews operating large-capacity, semi-autonomous mining equipment, such as jumbo drilling rigs and 50-t trucks (shown above).

The Kakula mine access is via twin declines on the northern side (which have been completed) and a single decline on the south side of the deposit (under development). One of the northern declines will be the mine’s primary access way, while the other will be for the ore conveyor haulage system. The southern ventilation decline will serve as a secondary access and will facilitate the acceleration of critical, early mine development.

From the bottom of the northern and southern declines, a pair of perimeter drifts will be driven to the east and west extremities of the deposit and will serve as the primary accesses to the production areas. These drifts also will be used as the primary intake and exhaust ventilation circuits and will connect with the intake and exhaust ventilation shafts. Underground access to the first raise bore ventilation shaft has been reached, Ivanhoe said. The pilot hole for the 177-m raise bore has been completed, and reaming of the 5.5-m diameter ventilation shaft is expected to be completed next month, according to the company.

The primary ore handling system will include perimeter conveyor drifts and load-out points along the north side of the deposit. The perimeter conveyor drifts will terminate at the main conveyor decline. Connection drifts between the north and south perimeter drifts will provide access and ventilation to the planned mining areas.

Around 99% of the deposit will be mined using the drift-and-fill method, which was chosen to maximise the overall extraction of Kakula ore, Ivanhoe said.

The tailings will flow through a series of cyclones at the backfill plant, and approximately 55% of the tailings will be sent back underground into the mined-out workings as paste backfill. The remaining 45% of the tailings will be pumped to a small tailings storage facility that is being designed by a team of international engineers to meet global best practices for safety, Ivanhoe said.

“The detailed design for the truck-tipping area, where underground ore will feed onto the conveyor system for transportation to surface, and the conveyor system for the main declines, has been completed and component manufacture is underway,” the company added.

Three underground mining crews are working at Kakula. Once Ventilation Shaft 1 is completed and fans have been installed, an additional three crews will be mobilised to accelerate mine development, which is scheduled for October 2019.

Development of an additional access and ventilation decline on the southern side of the Kakula orebody is progressing well and has advanced more than 200 m, Ivanhoe noted. A surface piling rig machine has been mobilised to prepare for the raise bore civil construction for Ventilation Shaft 2.

The DRA Global detailed engineering work on the project includes the engineering and design associated with all underground mining infrastructure, the concentrator plant and all supporting surface infrastructure. This engineering work is running in parallel with an independent definitive feasibility study that is expected to be completed early next year.

“An agreed, detailed budget, and construction and implementation plan is being finalised with Ivanhoe’s joint-venture partner Zijin Mining,” Ivanhoe said. “The project also will be further optimised and adjusted based on the development progress of the project and on the results of the definitive feasibility study.”

On May 22, the project’s construction team commenced breaking ground for the surface processing plant, marking the start of the concentrator construction. The Kakula concentrator will be constructed in a phased approach with two 3 Mt/y modules, as the mining operations ramp up to a full ore-throughput rate of 6 Mt/y. Kakula is expected to produce a very-high-grade copper concentrate in excess of 55% copper, with extremely low arsenic levels, according to Ivanhoe.

The processing plant flow diagrams, process control descriptions, and processing equipment lists have been completed and piping and instrumentation diagrams are being finalised, the company noted. “Tenders for long-lead items such as cone crushers, ball mills, thickeners, high-pressure grinding rolls, flotation cells, regrind mills, concentrate filter and low entrainment flotation cells, have been issued to the market and bids have been received. The Kamoa-Kakula project team in conjunction with DRA is in the process of adjudicating the tenders. Orders are expected to be placed shortly.”

In addition, the tender for the plant civil works has been issued. All bids have been received and are under adjudication. Tenders for smaller equipment for the processing plant such as agitators and samplers have been issued to the market.

Earlier this month, the Kamoa-Kakula project achieved a total of more than 14.5 million work hours free of lost-time injuries – it has been approximately seven years since the last lost-time injury occurred at the project. “This outstanding achievement reflects the dedication to a safety-focused culture of the entire Kamoa-Kakula exploration and development teams,” Ivanhoe said.

Ivanhoe also provided an update on the upgrading work at the Mwadingusha hydropower plant, which it said was progressing well. This project is important to the Kamoa-Kakula project as it is providing clean hydro-electricity to the site from the national grid.

“Construction activities at the Mwadingusha hydropower station are progressing well and Ivanhoe expects that the full upgrading and modernisation of the hydropower plant and its six generators to be completed in late 2020,” Ivanhoe said. “This upgrading work is pursuant to an agreement with the DRC’s state-owned power company, La Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL), and is in exchange for a guaranteed 100 MW of electricity – more than enough power for the Kakula mine. The Kamoa-Kakula project has been receiving hydroelectric-generated power from the national grid since late 2016.”

“This installation of modern power generating equipment at Mwadingusha is an important step in helping to secure long-term, sustainable and clean electricity for the Congolese people and for the development of the Kakula mine.”

The upgrading work at Mwadingusha is being conducted by engineering firm Stucky of Lausanne, Switzerland, under the direction of Ivanhoe and Zijin Mining, in conjunction with SNEL.

Work is underway on a 220-kV electrical substation at the Kakula mine that will allow the mine and processing plant to be fully powered from the national power grid. Two new Sumec generators also have been installed at Kakula to provide power to the mine in the event of any power interruptions in the national grid.

DRA Global moves from PFS to basic engineering at Kakula copper project

DRA Global has been awarded the contract for basic engineering services on the Kakula mine portion of the wider Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The contract scope includes the basic engineering and design associated with all underground mining infrastructure, the concentrator plant and all supporting surface infrastructure.

Kamoa Copper SA, a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin Mining Group and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will develop the new copper mine, which is expected to yield an estimated 6 Mt/y in its first phase alone.

The Kakula deposit has been independently ranked as the world’s largest, undeveloped, high yield, high-grade copper discovery, according to DRA, with a resource measuring 174 Mt at an average grade of 5.62% Cu.

DRA’s project delivery relationship with Ivanhoe Mines started on the high-grade platinum-group metals, nickel and copper Platreef project in South Africa. “It was on this project that DRA demonstrated its experienced capability in project delivery which proved to be a key differentiator for the organisation on Kakula,” DRA said.

DRA was contracted to complete the prefeasibility study (PFS) for Kamoa Copper SA, in 2017. In October 2018, DRA was further awarded the contract to deliver a complete basic engineering package. Work began in October and is estimated to conclude by mid-2019.

In addition to the basic engineering, DRA offers continued support on the early works, which includes equipping the main declines with dewatering and conveyor systems, ventilation shafts and associated surface infrastructure.

Alistair Hodgkinson, DRA Executive Vice President, Projects, said: “The team working on this project has gone above and beyond to meet deadlines and exceed client expectations ultimately to ensure that this signature project starts producing as soon as possible.”

Earlier this month, Ivanhoe Mines revealed the prefeasibility study for an initial 6 Mt/y copper mine at Kakula, in addition to an updated preliminary economic assessment combining both Kakula and Kamoa into an 18 Mt/y operation.

Ivanhoe Kamoa-Kakula studies reveal plan for world’s second largest copper mine

Ivanhoe Mines has released the prefeasibility study for an initial 6 Mt/y copper mine at the Kakula deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in addition to an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) combining both Kakula and Kamoa into an 18 Mt/y operation.

The Kakula deposit is in the southerly portion of the Kamoa-Kakula project’s discovery area and would form the first of three deposits to be mined in the 18 Mt/y scenario.

For the 6 Mt/y Kakula option, the PFS envisages an average annual production rate of 291,000 t of copper at a mine-site cash cost of $0.46/ Ib ($1,014/t) of copper and total cash cost of $1.11/lb copper for the first 10 years of operations. Annual copper production would step up to 360,000 t by year four, the company said.

This option came with an initial capital cost of $1.1 billion and would result in an after-tax net present value (8% discount) of $5.4 billion factoring in an average copper price of $3.10/lb.

Ivanhoe said Kakula would benefit from an ultra-high, average feed grade of 6.8% Cu over the first five years of operations, and 5.5% Cu on average over a 25-year mine life.

Basic engineering for the project is already underway and is expected to be completed around mid-year, running in parallel with a definitive feasibility study expected to be completed around year-end, Ivanhoe said.

“Development of twin underground declines has been completed at Kakula, with ongoing underground development activities, including access drives and ventilation raises. In addition, a box cut for a ventilation decline on the southern side of the Kakula orebody is nearing completion,” the company added.

The updated Kamoa-Kakula 2019 PEA presents the alternative development option of a three-phase, sequential operation on Kamoa-Kakula’s copper deposits (pictured below).

Initial production would occur at a rate of 6 Mt/y from the Kakula mine, before increasing to 12 Mt/y with mill feed from the Kansoko mine. A third 6 Mt/y mine would then be developed at Kakula West, bringing the total production rate to 18 Mt/y.

“As resources at Kakula and Kansoko are mined, the PEA envisages that production would begin at several mines in the Kamoa North area to maintain 18 Mt/y throughput over a 37-year mine life,” Ivanhoe said.

For this option, the PEA envisages $1.1 billion in initial capital costs, with future expansion at the Kansoko Mine, Kakula West Mine and subsequent extensions funded by cash flows from the Kakula mine. This resulted in an after-tax NPV (8% discount) of $10 billion using the same long-term copper price of $3.10/Ib.

Under this approach, the PEA also includes the construction of a direct-to-blister flash copper smelter at the Kakula plant site with a capacity of 1 Mt/y of copper concentrate to be funded from internal cash flows. This would be completed in year five of operations, achieving significant savings in treatment charges and transportation costs, according to the company.

The 18 Mt/y scenario would deliver average annual production of 382,000 t of copper at a total cash cost of $0.93/lb copper during the first 10 years of operations and production of 740,000 t/y by year 12. “At this future production rate, Kamoa-Kakula would rank as the world’s second largest copper mine,” Ivanhoe said.

Robert Friedland, Co-Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, was at the Mining Indaba event in Cape Town, South Africa to announce these results.

He said: “These studies clearly prove our long-standing conviction that Kamoa-Kakula is firmly on track to become one of the absolute greatest copper mining complexes in the world, helping to restore Katanga’s rightful position as the world’s largest copper producing region. This would not have happened without the extraordinary efforts of the Ivanhoe discovery team and our investment of more than $800 million in exploration and development.

“We now look forward to working with the new government of the DRC and the Congolese people to develop Kamoa-Kakula to its full potential, generating widely shared economic benefits that will help to uplift local communities, and provide skills training to help ensure that young Congolese can qualify for the thousands of meaningful direct and indirect jobs that will be created.”