Ivanhoe Mines has announced the start of copper concentrate production at Phase 1 of the 3.8 Mt / y Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, several months ahead of schedule.
The first ore was introduced into the mill on May 20 to conduct the first hot commissioning tests for ball mills and other processing equipment. The initial mill grade reached about 4% Cu shortly after start-up.
As of May 25, 5-6% Cu ore was routed directly from Kakula underground mining operations to the run-of-river stockpile and concentrator. Based on extensive testing, the concentrator is expected to produce a very high-quality clean concentrate, grading around 57% Cu, with extremely low arsenic levels, the company says.
Robert Friedland, co-chair of Ivanhoe Mines, said: “This is a historic moment for Ivanhoe Mines and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Discovering and delivering a copper province of this scale, quality and its exceptional environmental, social and governance credentials, ahead of schedule and budget, is a unicorn in the copper mining industry. This accomplishment reflects the exceptional cooperation of thousands of people and all of our joint venture partners in Kamoa-Kakula. “
He added, “Although this exploration journey began over two decades ago, it should also be noted that the Kakula deposit itself was discovered a little over five years ago, which is a remarkable advancement over glacial mining industry standards, from the first drilling to a major new mining operation. “
The start of production puts Ivanhoe on the path to establishing Kamoa-Kakula as the second largest copper mining complex in the world, according to Friedland.
“What really excites our geologists is the deep potential to find additional discoveries of Kamoa-Kakula-type copper on our huge exploration licenses at Western Foreland next door, in an identical geological setting,” he said. -he declares.
Co-chair Miles Sun added, “The launch of Phase 1 is the birth of a copper complex that will benefit generations to come, and we look forward to the next phases of expansion and exploration opportunities.
“Huge congratulations to the entire Ivanhoe Mines team and resounding applause to all the hard-working suppliers and subcontractors for bringing this colossal undertaking to fruition!”
Ivanhoe’s guidelines for copper in the concentrate expected to be produced by the Kamoa-Kakula project for the remainder of 2021 assume a ramp-up from first production in accordance with published technical disclosures, with production of contained copper in the concentrate of 80,000 to 95,000 t.
In April, the Kakula mine extracted 357,000 t of ore grading 5.7% Cu, of which 121,000 t grading 8.4% Cu came from the high-grade center of the mine.
Kakula, says Ivanhoe, is expected to be the world’s leading highest grade copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mt / yr, reaching 7.6 Mt / yr in the September 2022 quarter. 1 is expected to produce approximately 200,000 t / year of copper and Phases 1 and 2 combined are expected to produce approximately 400,000 t / year of copper.
Based on an independent benchmarking analysis, the project’s gradual expansion scenario to 19 Mt / year would position Kamoa-Kakula as the second largest copper mining complex in the world, with an annual peak copper production of over 800,000 t.
Given the current copper price environment, Ivanhoe and its partner Zijin are exploring accelerating the expansion of the Kamoa-Kakula Phase 3 concentrator from 7.6 Mt / yr to 11.4 Mt / yr, which could be fueled by the expansion of mining operations in Kansoko, or by new mining. areas in Kamoa North (including the Bonanza area) 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 the Congo (20%).
Along with 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 analysis services. SGS is one of the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification companies. The new analytical laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.
The results of various types of mining, exploration and processing samples will be reported using a wide range of analytical techniques specially selected to provide precise and precise results in the time required to effectively control the mining processes. concentrator and mine.
Process control samples will be analyzed using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) devices with rapid turnaround time for monitoring and control of the concentration plant. The metal count samples will be analyzed using two simultaneous ICP-OES phased array instruments. The dual measurement mode of the ICP-OES instrumentation allows the analysis of critical elements such as mercury, arsenic, lead, etc. offering high measurement sensitivity while the combination of two sample digestion methods (fusion and acid digestion) will cover a wide range. analytical levels, said Ivanhoe.
The high-quality copper samples will be analyzed using the conventional iodide titration method, which provides good precision and accuracy required for shipping samples, the company said. The practical and flexible potentiometric auto-titrators provide efficient and accurate results that are fully traceable to international methods and standards.