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Ivanhoe's Kamoa Copper subsidiary signs MoU to start copper exports through Lobito corridor

16th August 2023

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines' Kamoa Copper subsidiary has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Lobito Atlantic International for the transportation of copper concentrate produced at the Kamoa-Kakula mine, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), by rail to the Atlantic Ocean Port of Lobito, in Angola.

The rail line linking the DRC Copperbelt to the Port of Lobito is known as the Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor or the Lobito Corridor and extends for 1 739 km. It passes within 5 km of the Kamoa-Kakula licence boundary and through the Western Foreland exploration licences, says Ivanhoe.

An initial trial shipment of up to 10 000 t of copper concentrate from Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 1 and 2 concentrators will be transported along the corridor in the fourth quarter of this year. Once at the Port of Lobito, the concentrate will be sold to international markets.

Ivanhoe expects this route will help it to reduce its emissions and it plans to gather information on greenhouse-gas (GHG) savings, transit times, operating costs and other operational factors from the trial shipment.

Currently, Kamoa-Kakula trucks its copper concentrates by road across sub-Saharan Africa to the ports of Durban, in South Africa; Dar es Saleem, in Tanzania; Beira, in Mozambique; and Walvis Bay, in Namibia, from where the concentrates are shipped onto international markets.

About 90% of the concentrates are shipped from Durban and Dar es Saleem. Not only is the distance to the Port of Lobito from Kamoa-Kakula greatly reduced but transportation by rail is both quicker and significantly less energy intensive than transportation by road.

Ivanoe says that, once fully operational, the Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor could significantly improve the logistics costs and carbon footprint of exporting metals from its Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex, the Kipushi zinc/copper/germanium/silver mine, as well as the future development of any copper discoveries within the Western Foreland exploration project.

"The Lobito Corridor is set to become a crucial trade route for copper and other critical minerals from a uniquely strategic region of Africa . . . metals that are so desperately needed for our planet's energy transition. Thanks to the forward-thinking investments by our shareholders CITIC, who originally upgraded the port and rail line, there is now the possibility of open access rail from the Copperbelt to the deep-water, Atlantic Ocean Port of Lobito. This type of modern infrastructure will be critical as mines like Kamoa-Kakula continue to expand, and as more tier-one copper discoveries are made in the Western Foreland . . . the best copper hunting ground on the planet.

“The Lobito Corridor is the shortest and most direct export and import route from the Copperbelt to the seaborne international market, which should provide for quicker turnaround times and lower costs. Most importantly, logistics on the rail corridor will incur significantly lower carbon emissions than the alternative by truck – further enhancing Kamoa-Kakula’s commitment to produce ultra-green copper," comments Ivanhoe co-chairperson Robert Friedland.

He adds that the US government's support for the Lobito Corridor and proposed financing highlights the need for a coordinated global effort to upgrade infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa.

"To tackle the challenges of climate change, international cooperation is essential in developing responsible supply chains. This collaboration must involve local communities, ensuring a sustainable and ethical approach to extracting minerals in the areas where they are found."

The Lobito Atlantic International consortium was awarded a 30-year concession for railway services and support logistics in Angola.

It has committed to invest $455-million in Angola and up to a further $100-million in the DRC on the improvement of the Lobito Corridor’s rail infrastructure, capacity and safety, including rolling stock consisting of over 1 500 wagons and 35 locomotives.

There is also potential for additional investment in the future as the opportunity is explored to further extend the Lobito Corridor into Zambia.

 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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