Ivanhoe releases 2024 DRC copper production targets

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Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. [IVN-TSX, IVPAF-OTC] has released its 2024 production guidance for its the Kamoa-Kakula Copper mine complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Production guidance is estimated at between 440,000 and 490,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, following the anticipated completion of the phase 3 concentrator during the third quarter of 2024. The company said Kamoa-Kakula produced 393,551 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2023, a number that was inside the 2023 production guidance rate of 390,000 to 430,000 tonnes, and marking a year-over-year increase of 18%.

On Monday, Ivanhoe shares edged down 0.52% or $0.07 to $13.31. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $14.01 and $9.89.

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.

During 2023, Kamoa-Kakula Phase 1 and 2 concentrators milled approximately 8.5 million tonnes of ore at an average feed grade of 5.2% copper, producing 824,382 dry metric tonnes of copper concentrate. Copper flotation recoveries for the year averaged 87.4%, above the Phase 1 and 2 concentrator design recovery rate of 86%.

In the 2023 fourth quarter, a total of 2.1 million ore tonnes were milled at an average feed grade of 4.9% copper, producing 92,215 tonnes of copper in concentrate. Quarterly production was impacted by intermittent grid instability, particularly in November where plant utilization was significantly hampered by unplanned outages.

As with previous quarters, ore is drawn as required from surface stockpiles to maximize copper production. Kamoa-Kakula’s high and medium-grade ore surface stockpiles totalled approximately 4.13 million tonnes at an estimated, blended average grade of 3.55% copper. Contained copper int stockpiles at the end of December, 2023, totaled more than 143,000 tonnes.

Ivanhoe said it will report its fourth quarter and full-year 2023 financial results, and a detailed update on its operations, on February 26, 2024. At that time, the company will provide 2024 guidance ranges for cash costs per pound of payable copper and capital expenditures.

Ivanhoe will also provide further guidance on Kipushi (zinc-copper-geranium-silver mine in DRC) and Platreef (palladium-nickel-platinum-rhodium-copper-gold project in South Africa), which are expected to be commissioned in the second quarter and third quarter of 2024 respectively.

Meanwhile, Kamoa Copper has been working extensively with DRC’s state-owned power company, La Societe Nationale d’Electricite (SNEL), to identify the causes of instability across the southern DRC’s grid infrastructure and to identify long-lasting solutions.

In December 2023, SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC, a subsidiary of Kamoa Holding Ltd., signed an amendment to the existing financing agreement to fund the identified infrastructure upgrades.

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