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“The majority of the development headings at the Kakula Mine currently are traversing medium-grade sections of the orebody, with average grades ranging between 3% and 5% copper. Several development headings are continuing in high-grade zones grading more than 8% copper, and this ore is being placed on a dedicated, high-grade surface stockpile at Kakula North that now totals approximately 68,000 tonnes grading an estimated 5.90% copper. The medium-grade surface stockpiles at Kakula North, Kakula South and Kansoko together contain an additional 394,000 tonnes grading an estimated 2.71% copper.”
Ivanhoe Mines Ltd
Ivanhoe Mines Co-Chairs Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun announced today that underground development at the Kakula Copper Mine continues to exceed expectations with more than 17 kilometres now complete, which is 5.1 kilometres ahead of schedule. In June, the mining team achieved 1,729 metres of underground development – 575 metres ahead of plan for the month.
Kakula’s 2,000-tonne-per-hour ore conveyor system began operations in June, which will further increase the mine’s pace of underground development.
The majority of the development headings at the Kakula Mine currently are traversing medium-grade sections of the orebody, with average grades ranging between 3% and 5% copper. Several development headings are continuing in high-grade zones grading more than 8% copper, and this ore is being placed on a dedicated, high-grade surface stockpile at Kakula North that now totals approximately 68,000 tonnes grading an estimated 5.90% copper. The medium-grade surface stockpiles at Kakula North, Kakula South and Kansoko together contain an additional 394,000 tonnes grading an estimated 2.71% copper.
As Kakula’s underground development progresses over the next few months, the majority of the headings are expected to transition into the high-grade ore zones. More than 200 truck loads, consisting mainly of structural steel and equipment for Kakula’s initial 3.8-million-tonne-per-annum processing plant, were received on site in June and construction of the plant is progressing rapidly. Fabrication of the plant’s largest components – two ball mills each measuring 9.75 metres (32 feet) long and 6.1 metres (20 feet) in diameter – has been completed at CITIC Heavy Industries’ factory in Luoyang, China, and shipping of the components is underway.
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 DRC government (20%).
Aerial view of the Kakula Mine showing the tonnes and grade of the main pre-production stockpiles. The northern declines and ore conveyor system are circled in red and the processing plant is in the upper right corner.
Kakula’s high-capacity ore conveyor system begins operation
Kakula’s decline conveyor system that will transport ore from underground to surface now is operational. Final commissioning of the full system (including the fire suppression system and all safety components) is underway and is scheduled to be completed around mid-July. The conveyor system has the capacity to transport 2,000 tonnes of ore per hour from underground to surface.
The conveyor system substantially shortens the haulage distance for the mine’s truck fleet; significantly increasing productivity, and lowering mining and maintenance costs.
Construction of the surface conveyor system has commenced and the first steel has been delivered to site. The surface conveyor system will transport ore from the decline conveyor system to the main processing plant stockpile. Forecast completion date is scheduled for Q1 2021.
Development of the Kakula Mine, the first deposit to be placed into production on the 400-square-kilometre Kamoa-Kakula mining licence, is well ahead of schedule. Mine access drives 1 and 2 (interconnected, parallel tunnels that will provide access to ore zones) continue to progress well towards the southern portion of the orebody. Development also is well advanced on the eastern perimeter drives and the room-and-pillar mining area. Development from the southern portal has reached south access drives 1 and 2, with mining crews working to establish the connection of these drives with mine access drives 1 and 2 from the north side of the orebody. The northern and southern access drives are scheduled to be joined by the end of October 2020.
Underground mining also is occurring at the Kansoko Mine, located at the Kamoa deposit approximately 10 kilometres north of the Kakula Mine. Kansoko is development ready and currently is being used to train young Congolese mining crews. The main surface exhaust ventilation fans (VS#2) are progressing well with fan fabrication on schedule and the ventilation shaft raise boring complete. The NE#1 fan station pilot hole has commenced with fabrication of the fans scheduled to start this month. The third underground water pumping train at Kakula’s main decline pumping chamber has been commissioned, increasing the mine’s pumping capacity to 600 litres per second.
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 finalized this month. 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.
Construction of Kamoa’s 3.8-million tonne-per-annum (Mtpa) concentrator plant is progressing well, with more than15,000 cubic metres of concrete being poured to date. Concrete bases for the ball mills, flotation plant and the concentrate thickener have been partially handed over to the mechanical contractor to commence installation work, and steel erection is currently underway in the flotation and thickener areas. Approximately 3,600 tonnes of structural steel had been shipped from China by end of June.
Beijing-based CITIC Construction has been awarded the construction contract for Kakula’s phase 1 backfill paste plant. The backfill plant will be used to blend tailings from the processing plant with cement to produce paste backfill. The backfill will be pumped back into the mine and used to help support mined-out areas. Approximately 55% of the mine’s tailings will be sent back underground, significantly reducing the surface tailings storage.
The Electrical & Instrumentation contract was recently awarded to T3 Construction, a leading South African construction company. This is the final major construction contract required for Kakula’s processing and backfill plants. Construction of the tailings dam has commenced and is progressing well, the aim is to complete most of the earthworks during the dry season before the rainy season starts in November.
Construction activities at the Mwadingusha hydro-electric power plant, where all six turbines are being replaced, is progressing well; as is the associated 220-kilovolt (kVA) infrastructure to supply the mine with clean hydro-power. The mine is scheduled to be energized with permanent 220kV hydro-generated power in early 2021, well in time for first copper production.
The temporary construction power supply for the Kakula Mine was recently upgraded, including the commissioning of five new 2MW generators to provide back-up power, and the installation of an 18MW/120kV mobile substation to increase the capacity of grid power available at the mine. This will provide sufficient power until the main 220kV power supply is energized.
Construction of the 220kV supply infrastructure is in progress, including: a new 220kV distribution sub-station for the power utility (SNEL); and a new 35-kilometre, 220kV power line and a consumer substation at Kakula with two 80MW/220kV transformers. The transformers are presently being factory tested and prepared for shipment to site.
A new access road from the city of Kolwezi to the Kansoko and Kakula mines was recently completed and is now open to traffic.