Ivanhoe Planning 3 Mines at Kakula-Kamoa Property

OIvanhoe Mines has announced results of a prefeasibility study of an initial 6-millionmetric- ton-per-year (mt/y) underground mine on its Kakula-Kamoa copper properties at the western end of the Central African Copper Belt in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the same time, the company has announced an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of an expanded Kakula-Kamoa mine production rate of 18 million mt/y, with sequential development of two additional 6-million-mt/y mines and a world-scale direct-to-blister smelter that would have capacity to process 1 million mt/y of concentrates. Peak production from three mines and the smelter is forecast at 700,000 mt/y of copper.

The initial 6-million-mt/y Kakula mine benefits from an ultra-high average feed grade of 6.8% copper over the first five years of operations and 5.5% copper over a 25-year mine life. Capital costs to develop the mine are estimated at $1.1 billion, with a project payback period of 2.6 years. Development of the initial Kakula mine would be followed by development of the 6-million-mt/y Kansoko mine and then by a third 6-million-mt/y mine at Kakula West. As resources at Kakula and Kansoko are mined, production would begin at several mines in the Kamoa North area of the property to maintain 18 million mt/y of mine production over a 37-year mine life.

Each of the three mines would be a separate underground mine, with a shared processing facility and surface infrastructure at Kakula. The Kakula concentrator would be constructed in a phased approach, with two 3-million-mt/y modules to be constructed as the mining operations ramp-up to full production of 6 million mt/y. The Kakula-Kamoa copper deposits are unique in that they have ultra-high grades in thick, shallow, flat-lying orebodies, allowing for large-scale, mechanized underground mining operations. Approximately 99% of the Kakula deposit will be mined using drift-and-fill with paste backfill.

The Kakula mine will be accessed via twin declines on the north side of the deposit, which have been completed, and a single decline on the south side of the deposit. One of the north declines will serve as the primary mine access, while the other will include a conveyor haulage system. The south decline will serve as a secondary operational ingress/egress and will facilitate critical early mine development. From the bottom of the north and south declines, perimeter drifts will be driven to the east and west extremities of the deposit and will serve as primary accesses to the production areas. These drifts also will be used as the primary intake and exhaust ventilation circuits and will connect to a series of intake and exhaust ventilation shafts.

The primary ore handling system will include perimeter conveyor drifts and load-out points along the north side of the deposit. These drifts will terminate at the main conveyor decline. Connection drifts between the north and south perimeter drifts will provide access and ventilation to the planned mining areas. Regarding these new Kakula-Kmoa studies, Ivanhoe President and CEO Lars-Eric Johansson said, “The 18-million-mt/y development scenario clearly shows the economic potential for a phased development plan for Kamoa-Kakula to become one of the largest copper mines in existence.

“However, as evidenced by our remarkable discovery hole drilled at Kamoa North announced last week (January 30) — the thickest high-grade intersection yet at Kamoa-Kakula returning 13.05% copper over 22.3 m starting at a depth of only 190 m below surface — we are confident that there are more high-grade copper discoveries to be made in the area, and the ultimate scale of operations at Kamoa-Kakula can be much larger.

“We see no geological limitation to the goal of eventually producing 1 million mt/y of copper.” The Kakula prefeasibility study and Kakula-Kamoa PEA were independently prepared by Amec Foster Wheeler E&C Services; DRA Global; KGHM Cuprum R&D Centre, Wroclaw, Poland; OreWin; Stantec Consulting International; and SRK Consulting.

As featured in Womp 2019 Vol 03 - www.womp-int.com