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Ivanhoe’s DRC exploration improves understanding of copper stratigraphy

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Drilling at the Makoko Discovery on the Western Foreland licences. Image credit: Ivanhoe Mines

Ivanhoe’s DRC exploration improves understanding of copper stratigraphy

Regional drill campaigns and geophysical programs in 2022 continue to improve geological and basin models at Ivanhoe Mines’ Western Foreland licence package in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Ivanhoe Mines’ DRC exploration team is targeting high-grade Kamoa-Kakula-style copper mineralisation across its 2,407-square-kilometre Western Foreland licence package, which lies adjacent to the 400-square-kilometre Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the DRC.

According to Ivanhoe President Marna Cloete, Ivanhoe drilled a total of 26,483m in the 2022 season which included 4,633m of air core and 21,920m of diamond drilling.

“The diamond drilling campaign was largely conducted on wide-spaced regional sections intended to improve the understanding of the geology and geometry of the underlying copper belt stratigraphy, which will be used to narrow down future targets,” says Cloete.

Air core results, combined with the airborne gravity geophysical data, are used to define the basin limits and internal structures. Air core drilling is designed to collect samples from the underlying rocks that sit below the exotic Kalahari sands cover, which can be as much as 40m thick, for geochemistry and lithology identification.

The air core program was shortened in 2022, as results from regional drilling lowered the prospectivity of planned target areas. More detailed exploration activities took place in the Lupemba, Mushiji and Makoko areas.

Cloete says that in the Lupemba area, in the southwest of the Western Foreland, a ground-gravity program was undertaken along with a large, 800m spaced air core drilling grid.

In the Mushiji area, which is north of the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex, drilling was focused on defining the northern limit of the Roan Basin, which now appears to be restricted to the southern 15km of the permit.

Increased focus on exploration (Ivanhoe’s DRC exploration improves understanding of copper stratigraphy)  

According to Ivanhoe Executive Co-Chair Robert Friedland, the company’s 2023 exploration program will focus on the southern portion of the Mushiji area.

Friedland says that the initial 2023 budget is approximately USD19- million but that this may be expanded based on program results.

“Exploration activities in 2023 will continue to focus on the licence-wide collection of air core samples for geochemical testing, as well as the ongoing refinement of geophysical data interpretations to further improve internal geological and basin models,” says Friedland.

In the Makoko area, exploration focused on testing the six-kilometre western extension of the growth fault corridor that was previously identified by wide-spaced drill sections in 2021.

The 2022 drill program consisted of step-out and in-fill drilling, totaling 8,000m in 41 holes. Continuity of mineralisation was proven. These results will be incorporated into the Mineral Resource estimate for Makoko, planned for mid-year.

Ivanhoe’s initial 2023 exploration program includes approximately 70,000m of combined air core and diamond drilling, as well as ground-based geophysics and soil sampling programs, and additional access road construction.

Field work will commence at the start of the 2023 dry season, which typically begins in April.

Mineral Resource definition drilling at Makoko is planned to further define the extent and structure of mineralisation, ahead of a planned maiden Mineral Resource estimate planned for mid-year.

In addition, hydrogeological and geotechnical studies, as well as further metallurgical test work will be conducted.

Friedland says that Ivanhoe will continue to pursue new licence applications and also explore opportunities for joint ventures across the region in areas it considers prospective.

Developing the DRC frontier (Ivanhoe’s DRC exploration improves understanding of copper stratigraphy)  

Initial exploration activities on Ivanhoe’s Western Foreland licences began in July 2017. Given the frontier nature of the topography, activities started with the construction of critical infrastructure to provide access for exploration equipment.

This included the construction of all-season access roads and bridges, as well as new camp facilities. To date, Ivanhoe has completed over 105km of new and refurbished, all-season access roads, including a 90km spine road running through the centre of the licences that provides access to all its licences in the southwest region of the Western Foreland.

In parallel, Ivanhoe has undertaken airborne and ground-based geophysical surveys, targeted regional air core and diamond drilling, and revisited previously acquired geophysical and geochemical data sets.

Ivanhoe’s interpretative work to date has led to the definition of several promising exploration targets, including the discovery of the high-grade Makoko and Kiala copper discoveries.

The initial discovery of Makoko in 2018, situated approximately 20km west of the Kakula deposit, proved Ivanhoe’s exploration model for the geologic features controlling the high-grade copper mineralisation in the region.

Drilling to date at Makoko has defined a flat-lying, stratiform copper deposit that is geologically similar to the Kamoa and Kakula deposits. The second area of discovery in the Western Foreland was on the Kiala licence in early 2020, which adjoins the northern boundary of the Kamoa-Kakula mining licence. Kiala is the northern extension of the Kamoa Far North zone, which is located on the Kamoa-Kakula joint venture.

Ivanhoe’s DRC exploration improves understanding of copper stratigraphy

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 Ivanhoe’s DRC exploration improves understanding of copper stratigraphy

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