The Phase 1 and 2 concentrator plants at the Kamoa-Kakula mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), produced 30 379 t of copper-in-concentrate in June – the third consecutive month that the mine has surpassed its 7.6-million-tonne-a-year throughput design capacity.
It also contributed to another quarterly production record of 87 314 t of copper-in-concentrate produced for the second quarter.
Kamoa-Kakula is operated by Kamoa Copper, a subsidiary of TSX- and OTCQX-listed Ivanhoe Mines.
Copper recoveries were averaging more than 86% during June, with feed grades averaging about 5.5% copper.
Ongoing mining optimisation work at the mine is targeting improved head grade during the second half of this year towards 6% copper.
Kamoa Copper is also evaluating additional materials handling capacity at the mine to increase mining rates to feed the de-bottlenecked Phase 1 and 2 processing capacity of 9.2-million tonnes a year, which will be incorporated into the Phase 3 expansion prefeasibility study scheduled for release in the second half of this year.
The Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrator plants are approaching a combined annualised production rate of about 400 000 t of copper-in-concentrate. The de-bottlenecking programme is on track to boost Kamoa Copper's yearly output to about 450 000 t of copper-in-concentrate by the second quarter of 2023.
Management anticipates that the early commissioning of the Phase 2 concentrator plant in March this year, about four months ahead of schedule, will enable Kamoa Copper to deliver in the upper range of its 2022 production guidance of 290 000 t to 340 000 t of copper-in-concentrate.
“Kamoa Copper continues to deliver industry-leading operational performance with the rapid advancement of Kamoa-Kakula's Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrator plants, which now are approaching a production rate of 400 000 t of copper a year. We will continue this record of excellence as we realise the vast potential across the Kamoa-Kakula Mining Complex, which will be operating in the DRC for generations.
“Kamoa-Kakula is on pace to be the world's third-largest copper mining complex by the end of 2024, with the Phase 3 expansion expected to boost total copper production to approximately 600 000 t/y," comments Ivanhoe co-chairperson Robert Friedland.
"We are already among the ranks of the world's major copper producers . . . a metal the world vitally requires for conventional energy and industry, as well as the long-term shift to green energy and electrification. We are at an inflection point for the copper industry . . . one where we must meet substantial demand growth over the coming decades, even as discovering and building new mines has become more challenging and more complex.
“The supply/demand landscape for the copper market remains extremely clear despite any short-term market fluctuations and policy-driven demand destruction. Kamoa-Kakula will be an integral part of the supply solution, but we will need astronomically higher global copper production to solve the ongoing energy crisis and complete the vital transition to green energy,” he adds.