Ivanhoe Mines begins commercial copper production at Kamoa-Kakula

May 27, 2021

One of the largest new copper mines in decades, the Kamoa-Kakula Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has begun producing copper concentrate months ahead of schedule. Ivanhoe Mines Co-Chairs Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun announced the start of copper concentrate production at the Phase 1, 3.8 Mt/a (4.2 million stpy) mine on May 25.

The mine is the first one planned at the concession, a world-class discovery. Operations are set to ramp up this year to reach between 80 kt and 95 kt (88,000 and 105,000 st) of copper in concentrate. After several phases of expansion, the mine’s peak annual copper production will be more than 800 kt (880,000 st).

Ivanhoe mines believe the project will become the world’s second-largest copper mine and also the one with the highest grades among major operations. The concentrator is slated to produce concentrate grading around 57 percent copper.

His Excellency Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, commented on the significance of the start of production at Kamoa-Kakula: “The start of production of copper concentrate at the Kamoa-Kakula Mine indicates that the DRC is open for business and investment. We congratulate Ivanhoe Mines for having reached this milestone on this world-class discovery.”

First ore was introduced into the concentrator plant on May 20 to perform initial hot commissioning tests on the ball mills and other processing equipment. The initial mill feed grade reached approximately 4 percent copper shortly after start-up. As of May 25, 5 to 6 percent copper ore is being conveyed directly from Kakula’s underground mining operations to the run-of-mine stockpile and the concentrator. Based on extensive testwork, the concentrator is expected to produce a very high-grade, clean concentrate grading approximately 57 percent copper, with extremely low arsenic levels.

“This is a historic moment for Ivanhoe Mines and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Friedland. “Discovering and delivering a copper province of this scale, grade and outstanding ESG credentials, ahead of schedule and on budget, is a unicorn in the copper mining business. This accomplishment reflects the outstanding cooperation of thousands of individuals, and all of our joint-venture partners at Kamoa-Kakula.
“Although this exploration journey started well over two decades ago, it also is noteworthy that the Kakula deposit itself was discovered a little over five years ago, which is remarkable progress by the mining industry’s glacial standards from first drill hole to a new major mining operation,” said Friedland. “The initiation of production puts us on the path to establish Kamoa-Kakula as the second largest, and perhaps eventually the largest, copper mining complex in the world. What really excites our geologists is the profound potential to find additional Kamoa-Kakula-like copper discoveries on our massive Western Foreland exploration licences right next door, in an identical geologic setting.”

Co-Chairman Miles Sun also commented: “Today marks a monumental milestone not only for Ivanhoe Mines, but also for Kamoa-Kakula’s host country – the Democratic Republic of Congo, our young, dedicated Congolese employees, and local communities. We all are extremely proud to be part of this remarkable achievement, which is a true reflection of Ivanhoe’s 24 years of tenacity and commitment to the country and industry.
“The inception of Phase 1 is the birth of a copper complex that will benefit generations to come, and we very much look forward to the upcoming phases of expansion and exploration opportunities. Huge congratulations to the entire Ivanhoe Mines team and a roaring applause to all the hard-working suppliers and contractors for collectively completing this mammoth undertaking!”

Jinghe Chen, an Ivanhoe Director and Chairman of Zijin Mining, added: “As a joint-venture partner and a shareholder of Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin Mining is tremendously proud to showcase the fruition of this exceptionally successful partnership with Ivanhoe in bringing Phase 1 of Kamoa-Kakula into production ahead of time, while overcoming the significant challenges presented by an unprecedented global pandemic. It truly has required a global band of dedicated and exceptional talents that consist of the 7,000 workers onsite, and most importantly, the unwavering support from all our stakeholders, to make this important milestone a reality.”



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