The underground development at Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo is ahead of schedule and the initial production is expected in the 3rd quarter of 2021; Ivanhoe has announced. According to Co-chairs Robert Friendland and Yufeng Sun, more than 8km of underground development has been completed, which is 1.7km ahead of plan. “The mining team is on course to set a new monthly development record of 1,310m of advancement; 380m ahead of plan for the month,” they added.
The underground development work
The underground development work at Kakula is being performed by mining crews operating large-capacity, semi-autonomous mining equipment, such as jumbo drilling rigs and 50-tonne trucks.
According to Friedland and Sun, mine access drives 1 and 2 interconnected, parallel tunnels being developed from Kakula’s main northern declines that will provide access to high-grade ore zones are also being done promptly.
The development ore is being transported to the surface and stored on pre-production stockpiles, which are expected to grow to approximately 1.5 million tonnes of high-grade ore and an additional 700,000 tonnes of material grading approximately 1% to 3% copper prior to the start of initial production by the end of next year. “Based on the results of the February 2019 Kakula pre-feasibility study, Kakula’s average feed grade over the first five years of operations is projected to be 6.8% copper, and 5.5% copper on average over a 25 year mine life,” they affirmed.
In parallel with the construction of Kamoa-Kakula’s phase 1 Kakula Mine, work is progressing on the independent Kakula definitive feasibility study (DFS) and an updated Integrated Development Plan for the entire Kamoa-Kakula mining complex, which is expected to be issued in mid-2020.
The Kakula DFS will provide an increased level of accuracy for the project economics for the initial phase of mine development at Kakula. The Integrated Development Plan will include details on the planned expansion phases for the greater Kamoa-Kakula mining complex, incorporating updates for mineral resources, production rates and economic analysis.
The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project
The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%); has been independently ranked as the world’s largest, undeveloped, high-grade copper discovery by international mining consultant Wood Mackenzie. It is a very large, near-surface, flat-lying, stratiform copper deposit with adjacent prospective exploration areas within the Central African Copperbelt, approximately 25km west of the town of Kolwezi and about 270km west of the provincial capital of Lubumbashi.