Ivanhoe eyes Q3, 2021 start for DRC copper mine

Underground development at Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula mining complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Source: Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.

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Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.’s [IVN-TSX, IVPAF-OTC] huge Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is on track to start production in the third quarter of 2021.

The forecast is among the highlights of the company’s 2019 full year results, which also contain a review of mine construction progress and exploration activities.

“Development of the Kakula Mine, the first of multiple, planned mining areas at Kamoa-Kakula, is making excellent progress,” the company said in a press release. It said the first underground access drives intersected Kakula’s initial high-grade ore (+3% copper) in late August [2019], then intersected an even higher grade zone (approximately +6% copper) in late October [2019] as the drives advance towards mining zones of +8% copper in the centre of the Kakula deposit.

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), China’s Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd. (0.8%), and the DRC government (20%). It already ranks among the world’s biggest copper mines, with peak annual production expected to exceed 700,000 tonnes.

The Kamoa Deposit – originally discovered by Ivanhoe Mines’ geologists in 2008 – is one of two very large, near-surface, flat-lying, stratiform copper deposits discovered on a 400 km2 mining license. The other major deposit – Kakula – is being fast-tracked to commercial production, with the initial 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum mining operation scheduled to produce first concentrate in the third quarter of 2021.

Ivanhoe and partner Zijin Mining are advancing rapidly on civil works for the processing plant and other surface infrastructure. The joint venture has issued purchase orders for the long-lead mining and processing equipment. The first oversized loads of equipment of the processing plant arrived at the mine on February 21, 2020.

On Monday, Ivanhoe shares were swept up on in the stock market plunge that is attributable to concerns raised by the Corona Virus. The shares were down 15% or 44 cents to $2.53 after previously trading in a 52-week range of $2.97 and $4.54.

At a 1% cut-off, Kamoa’s Indicated Mineral Resources now stand at 760 million tonnes, grading 2.73% copper, containing 45.8 billion pounds of copper. At the same cut-off, Kamoa’s Inferred Mineral Resources are estimated to be 235 million tonnes, grading 1.70% copper, containing 8.8 billion pounds of copper.

Ivanhoe recently said the initial cost of developing its Kakula copper mine is estimated at US$1.3 billion, an 18% increase on earlier forecasts.

Kamoa-Kakula is one of three projects that the company is advancing in Southern Africa. They also include:

  • Mine development at the Platreef platinum-palladium-gold-nickel copper discovery on the Northern Limb of South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.
  • The high-grade Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine, located in the DRC.

Ivanhoe is led by Singapore-based mine financier Robert Friedland, who holds a 17% interest in the company. CITIC Metal Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned CITIC Group, recently agreed to invest an additional $612 million in Ivanhoe at $3.98 a share, raising its stake in Ivanhoe to 29.9% from just under 20%.


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