Kamoa-Kakula mills more than 500,000 tonnes of ore in July

A convoy of transport trucks loaded with Kamoa Copper's concentrate departing the Kamoa-Kakula Mine on their way to the port of Durban, South Africa. Image credit: Ivanhoe.

15 August 2021 – TSX listed Ivanhoe mines’ Kamoa-Kakula concentrator plant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reached commercial production on 1 July 2021. During July, Kamoa-Kakula milled more than 500,000 tonnes of ore.    

The 1, 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum (Mtpa) Kamoa-Kakula concentrator plant achieved a milling rate of more than 80% of design capacity and recoveries very close to 70% for a continuous, seven-day period.

To date, approximately 500,000 tonnes of ore have been milled, including approximately 263,000 tonnes grading 5.7% copper in July. Copper production has steadily increased since hot commissioning began at the end of May.

Copper production exceeded 500 tonnes per day toward the end of July, nearing the Phase 1 steady-state design capacity of approximately 550 tonnes per day, or 200,000 tonnes per year.

During August the focus of the commissioning team will shift from the front-end crushing and milling circuit to balancing and optimising the flotation and regrind milling areas. This is expected to further improve concentrate grade and recovery.

Copper recoveries have increased from an average of approximately 70% in June to approximately 81% in July. During the last 10 days of July, the concentrator averaged copper recoveries close to 82%, with operations progressively increasing toward the Phase 1 steady-state design copper recoveries of approximately 86%.

To date, approximately 32,700 tonnes of copper concentrate have been loaded at the mine site for delivery to either the Lualaba Copper Smelter near Kolwezi, or to international markets.

Mark Farren, Kamoa Copper’s CEO, says: “July marked another month of solid performance by our mining and concentrator teams, as we continue to add to the surface stockpiles even as Phase 1 copper production ramps up. We expect to maintain these ore production levels over the upcoming quarters in preparation for the commissioning of the Phase 2 concentrator plant, and the potential strategic stockpiling for the Phase 3 expansion.”

“During August, the focus of the commissioning team will shift from the front-end crushing and milling circuit to balancing and optimising the flotation and regrind milling areas. This is expected to further improve concentrate grade and recovery,” says Farren.

Kakula is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mtpa at an estimated, average feed grade of more than 6.0% copper over the first five years of operations and 5.9% copper over the initial 10 years of operations.

Phase 1 is expected to produce approximately 200,000 tonnes of copper per year, while the Phase 2 expansion is forecast to increase production to approximately 400,000 tonnes of copper annually.

The project is on track to complete the Phase 2 expansion in Q3 2022. Based on independent benchmarking, the project’s phased expansion scenario to 19 Mtpa would position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s second-largest copper mining complex, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 tonnes.

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is 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%).

A 2020 independent audit of Kamoa-Kakula’s greenhouse gas intensity metrics performed by Hatch Ltd. of Mississauga, Canada, confirmed that the project will be among the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced.

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