TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines continues to progress ahead of schedule with underground development of the Kakula copper mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The company, together with its joint venture (JV) partner Zijin Mining Group, has completed more than 17 km of underground development at the mine, of which 5.1 km is ahead of schedule.
In June, the team achieved 1.7 km of underground development, which on its own is 575 m ahead of plan for the month.
Kakula’s 2 000 t/h ore conveyor system also started operating in June, which will further increase the mine’s pace of underground development.
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% and 5% copper.
Several development headings are continuing in high-grade zones grading more than 8% copper, and this ore is being placed on a dedicated, high-grade surface stockpile at Kakula North that now totals about 68 000 t, grading an estimated 5.90% copper.
The medium-grade surface stockpiles at Kakula North, Kakula South and Kansoko together contain an additional 394 000 t, grading an estimated 2.71% copper.
As Kakula’s underground development progresses over the next few months, the majority of the headings are expected to transition into the high-grade ore zones.
Meanwhile, the construction of a 3.8-million-tonne-a-year processing plant is also progressing rapidly.
Ivanhoe says fabrication of the plant’s largest components – two ball mils each measuring 9.75 m, or 32 ft, long and 6.1 m, or 20 ft, in diameter – has been completed at Citic Heavy Industries’ factory, in China, and shipping of additional components is under way.
Initial production is expected in the third quarter of 2021.
The Kamoa-Kakula copper project is a JV between Ivanhoe, with a 39.6% stake, and Zijin Mining Group, with an equal stake, Crystal River Global, with a 0.8% stake and the DRC government, with a 20% stake.
In turn, China’s State-owned company Citic Metal is Ivanhoe’s largest shareholder with an almost 20% stake.