Ivanhoe Mines to embark on $16 million exploration program in DRC
Ivanhoe Mines co-chairmen, Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun, announced plans for a $16 million exploration program in 2021 on its Western Foreland exploration licenses.
The area includes 2,550 km2 (985 sq miles) in close proximity to the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a press release, the company said its exploration group is “targeting high-grade Kamoa-Kakula-style copper mineralization through a regional exploration and drilling program on the Western Foreland exploration ground, which shares the same geological setting as Kamoa-Kakula. Ivanhoe Mines’ 100 percent-owned exploration licenses cover the ground that Ivanhoe’s geological team considers to be the most prospective in the Western Foreland region.”
The initial 2021 exploration program includes 40,000 m (131,000 ft) of combined aircore and diamond drilling, airborne and ground-based geophysics, soil sampling and road construction. Field work will commence at the start of the 2021 dry season, which typically begins in April.
The initial 2021 budget is US$16 million, which may be expanded based on program results. Much of this year’s exploration will focus on more than 1,700 km 2 (656 sq miles) of new, 100 percent-owned permits that were acquired in 2019 and received environmental certification in 2020.
“Though the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed our field exploration plans in 2020, we were able to accomplish a significant amount of geophysical surveys and sampling work, which are our key early-stage prospecting techniques for identifying high-priority targets in this part of the Central African Copperbelt,” said Friedland.
“Exploration is in our DNA, and given the outstanding regional prospectivity of our landholdings in close proximity to the Kamoa-Kakula discovery, we are anxious to ramp up our exploration program as aggressively as possible.
“Our record of discovery successes at Kamoa-Kakula is unparalleled, and we have tremendous confidence in the ability and tenacity of our exploration team to leverage our proprietary exploration knowledge to deliver the DRC’s next great copper discovery on our 100 percent-owned ground.
“It was in the spring of 2016 that the team of geologists now leading our Western Foreland exploration efforts made the Kakula Discovery, which has transformed the Kamoa-Kakula Project into the world’s highest-grade, major copper mining operation. Given the geological similarities between Kamoa-Kakula and our adjoining exploration ground, which is more than six times larger than the Kamoa-Kakula mining license, the Western Foreland area is unquestionably one of the most prospective copper exploration districts anywhere in the world.
“While Ivanhoe will soon join the ranks of leading copper producers, our commitment to high-quality exploration with leading-edge technology is core to our long-term business strategy. We view it as our research and development division, designed to provide us with a pipeline of new development opportunities for years to come,” said Friedland.
Ivanhoe’s Western Foreland Exploration Project consists of 17 licenses to the north, south and west of the Kamoa mining licenses. The 17 licenses cover a combined area of approximately 2,550 km2 (985 sq miles). The primary exploration target in the Western Foreland area is Kamoa-Kakula-style sedimentary copper mineralization that occurs at the base of the lower Nguba “Grand Conglomerate,” particularly where the lower Nguba sits in direct contact with the underlying Upper Roan sandstones.