The initial joining of the main northern and southern access tunnels at TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mine’s Kakula copper mine, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been completed.
Kakula is the first of multiple, high-grade, underground copper mines to be developed on the Kamoa-Kakula project’s 400 km2 mining licence. The mine is being developed on the eastern portion of the Kakula deposit, representing less than half of the overall 13.3-km-long deposit.
The main access tunnels (drives) between the northern and southern declines at the Kakula mine were connected (holed) in the high-grade core of the deposit, where the average grade is projected to exceed 8% copper.
The holing has opened up the first two high-grade, drift-and-fill mining blocks totalling 10.6-million tonnes at an average grade of 6.78% copper near the centre of the deposit.
“Now that we have initiated development of Kakula’s first two high-grade ore blocks, it is important to note that these two areas alone contain more than 700 000 t of in situ copper and approximately 600 000 t of recoverable copper.
“With copper trading at approximately $7 000/t, the saleable value of the copper concentrate produced from these initial two blocks exceeds the estimated capital cost to develop both the first and second phases of production at Kamoa-Kakula. This is the true definition of a tier one mine,” comments Ivanhoe co-chairperson Robert Friedland.
“The holing is a major achievement and milestone for the project team and our underground mining crews. It opens up the mine’s footprint for ventilation and, more importantly, marks our entry into high-grade ore from both sides of the deposit.
“We have moved quickly to open up these high-grade reserves at the core of the Kakula deposit. We now will complete the ledging work and prepare the drift-and-fill mining areas for production so that we can feed the concentrator plant with high-grade ore directly from underground when the plant starts operations in July 2021,” adds Kamoa Copper CEO Mark Farren.
Ivanhoe reports that the second holding at the project is expected to be completed by June 2021. That will open up an additional high-grade and medium-grade mining block and deliver 26-million tonnes of ore to feed the initial 3.8-million-tonne-a-year concentrator plant.
Phase 1 copper concentrate production from the Kakula mine is scheduled to begin in July 2021.
The mine is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8-million tonnes a year at an estimated average feed grade of more than 6% copper over the first five years of operation.
Phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce up to 427 000 t/y of copper.
Based on independent benchmarking, the project’s phased expansion scenario to 19-million tonnes a year will position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s second-largest copper mining complex, with peak yearly copper production of more than 800 000 t.
Source: Mining Weekly