The project has been independently ranked as the world’s largest, undeveloped, high-grade copper discovery by international mining consultant Wood Mackenzie.
Kakula is the first of multiple, planned, high-grade mining areas on the 400-square kilometre Kamoa-Kakula mining license. Kansoko is located at the Kamoa Deposit, approximately 10 km north of the Kakula Mine.
On Tuesday the company said it mined and stockpiled 269,000 tonnes of ore grading 5.36% copper in December from the Kakula and Kansoko mines. The tonnage was 7.6% higher than November, while the copper grade was 10.5% higher.
Ivanhoe also said pre-production ore stockpiles now hold 1.52 million tonnes, grading 4.03% copper, containing more than 61,000 tonnes of copper.
“Overall progress of Kamoa-Kakula’s first phase, 3.8 million tonne per annum mining and milling operation is now approximately 68% complete; first copper concentrate production continues to be on track for July 2021,” the company said.
Ivanhoe co-Chairman Robert Friedland, meanwhile, remains bullish on the outlook for copper.
“Our expectations are for continued rising copper prices through 2021 and beyond, as such, the timing of Kamoa Copper’s first production is fortuitous given that the project is scheduled to have ore stockpiles containing more than 125,000 tonnes of contained copper available for processing by July 1 ,” said Friedland.
“A rising copper price directly impacts the realizable value of the contained copper in the stockpiles, the cost of which is capitalized,’’ he said. The current copper price is approximately US$7,900 a tonne.
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%.
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%).