SX-listed Ivanhoe Mines is progressing with mine development work on three of its Central and Southern African mining projects, with its flagship Kakula copper discovery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on track to start producing in the third quarter of 2021.

The miner reports that its definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Kakula mine, and an updated integrated development plan for multiple expansions of the entire Kamoa-Kakula mining licence, are also nearing completion.

The Kamoa-Kakula project, in which Ivanhoe holds a 39.6% stake as a joint venture partner with Zijin Mining, has been independently ranked as the world’s fourth-largest copper deposit by international mining consultant Wood Mackenzie.

Ivanhoe expects to soon issue an updated integrated development plan for the entire Kamoa-Kakula mining complex, which will include details on the planned expansion phases for the greater Kamoa-Kakula mining complex, incorporating updates with regard to mineral resources, production rates and economic analysis.

A separate study for an on-site smelter has been completed in parallel to a feasibility level of detail and will be incorporated into the integrated Kamoa-Kakula preliminary economic assessment.

Further, Ivanhoe plans to increase initial plant capacity from three-million tonnes a year to 3.8-million tonnes a year, which requires increasing the underground mining crews this year from 11 to 14 to ensure sufficient mining operations to feed the expanded plant throughput.

This will have the benefit of producing a larger surface stockpile of ore before the scheduled commissioning of the processing plant, as well as accelerating the mine development schedule, providing the opportunity to bring forward the commencement of the second phase of development at Kakula.

The second 3.8-million-tonne-a-year plant module will be primarily fed from the Kakula mine at a planned full production mining rate of six-million tonnes a year.

Ivanhoe also envisages that an additional 1.6-million tonnes a year will be sourced from its Kansoko mine, or elsewhere, to ensure the full milling capacity of 7.6-million tonnes a year is reached.

The miner reports that there are currently ten mining crews (three owner crews and seven contractor crews) at Kakula and one mining crew at Kansoko. The project will continue to add additional crews over the next 12 months to further accelerate development.

One crew is currently being trained at the Kamoa training centre.

PLATREEF & KIPUSHI

In South Africa, Ivanhoe is progressing with mine development work at its 64%-owned Platreef platinum group metals (PGMs)/gold/nickel/copper mine, having recently completed the sinking of Shaft 1 to the final depth of 996 m.

The thickness of the mineralised orebody (T1 and T2 mineralised zones) at Shaft 1 is 29 m, with grades of PGMs ranging up to 11 g/t of platinum, palladium and rhodium, as well as gold and significant quantities of nickel and copper.

The 29 m intersection yielded about 3 000 t of ore, estimated to contain more than 400 oz of PGMs. The ore is stockpiled on surface for further metallurgical sampling.

Further, Ivanhoe’s 68%-owned DRC-based Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/lead/germanium mine is also busy with extensive upgrading of the historic workings.

The Kipushi project’s prefeasibility study (PFS), announced by Ivanhoe in December 2017, anticipated yearly production of an average of 381 000 t of zinc concentrate over an 11-year, initial mine life at a total cash cost of about $0.48/lb of zinc.

Based on a long-term zinc price of $1.10/lb, the Kipushi project is expected to have an after-tax net present value, at an 8% real discount rate, of $683-million, and an after-tax real internal rate of return of 35.3%, with an after-tax project payback period of 2.2 years.

Preproduction capital costs, including contingency, are expected to be $337-million, while existing surface and underground infrastructure enables significantly lower capital costs than comparable greenfield development projects.

Based on the PFS, Ivanhoe reports that Kipushi’s life-of-mine average planned zinc concentrate production will be 381 000 t/y, with a concentrate grade of 59% zinc, thereby making the mine, once in production, among the world’s largest zinc mines.

Meanwhile, Ivanhoe has also appointed female business leaders Nunu Ntshingila and Martie Janse van Rensburg as independent directors.

Ntshingila is Facebook Africa regional director and Janse van Rensburg is a chartered accountant who worked for South Africa’s Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority from 1994 to 2008, initially as its CFO and then as CEO.

They both have more than 25 years’ business experience with Africa-based companies.

BY: DONNA SLATER

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