Ivanhoe tables new copper estimate in DRC

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. [IVN-TSX; IVPAF-OTC] says its already huge Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo has just gotten bigger, as shown by an updated resource estimate for the project.

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.

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.

It means Kamoa’s indicated copper content has increased by 15.5%, mostly due to the drilling of in the northern part of the deposit, an area known as North Bonanza.

“We see excellent opportunity to add further shallow, higher-grade copper resources in the northern portion of the mining license in the general vicinity of the Bonanza Zone and the Far North Zone, as well as our adjoining wholly-owned Western Foreland exploration licenses, which should allow us to further unlock the exciting potential of this resource area,” said George Gilchrist, Ivanhoe Mines’ vice-president, resources.

On Thursday, Ivanhoe shares rose 3.45% or 12.5 cents to $3.74 and now trade in a 52-week range of $3.00 and $4.54.

The new estimate comes after 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, which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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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