Ivanhoe nears completion of Kakula mine development
Mining News Pro - Thanks to the "excellent" progress that has been made by Ivanhoe Mines in advancing the underground development of the Kakula mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), only 260 m of tunnelling remains until the access drives are connected.

The northern and southern dual access drives are expected to be connected by next month, allowing highly productive stoping operations to begin in high-grade zones of the mine.

Ivanhoe co-chairperson Robert Friedland says the development of the dual access drives from Kakula’s northern decline has entered a zone of chalcocite-rich ore grading up to 11% copper over a height of 6.6 m, which serves as confirmation of the exceptional quality of the Kakula resource, which sits at the apex of any ranking worldwide.

Linking up the two access drives will open up important high-grade copper reserves and enable ventilation to flow through dedicated underground airways. Additionally, the merger of the northern and southern declines will help facilitate a ramp-up in production and increase efficiency of the mine’s underground logistics.

At the start of September, Ivanhoe’s underground development of Kakula’s access drives totalled 1 842 m.

The Kakula mine is part of Ivanhoe’s broader Kamoa-Kakula project, encompassing the neighbouring Kamoa, Kakula and Kansoko copper mines.

The Kakula mine is the first of multiple planned mining areas at the Kamoa-Kakula project, which is a joint venture between Ivanhoe, Zijin Mining, Crystal River Global and the DRC government.

Kakula 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.

Meanwhile, Ivanhoe says construction is progressing well on the Kakula concentrator plant, with first production expected in July next year.

The concentrator plant will initially have a capacity of 3.8-million tonnes a year. The company has also already ordered long-lead items for a second 3.8-million-tonne-a-year concentrator plant.

Once the two concentrator plants are operating, the company expects to employ close to 2 000 permanent Kamoa employees.

Ivanhoe is initially targeting production of 400 000 t/y of copper from Phase 1 and 2 of the concentrator plant.

The company will eventually progress to processing 19-million tonnes of ore a year, as Phases 3, 4 and 5 are implemented.

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