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“The open access to the deep-water port in Lobito by rail would not be possible without the vision and investment made by our shareholders CITIC and Zijin. CITIC was instrumental in upgrading the Lobito port and the rail line in 2014, while our joint venture partner Zijin is currently active in upgrading road and border infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo to enable access to the Lobito Corridor from the Copperbelt, as well as improve existing export corridors.”
Ivanhoe Mines Executive Co-Chair Robert Friedland and President Marna Cloete announce that the U.S. Government made a press statement during the 2023 G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, stating that the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is currently performing due diligence for a potential $250 million investment to finance the open-access Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor (Lobito Corridor) from the port of Lobito in Angola to the Angolan-DRC border. The “transformative economic corridor” connects the Angolan port of Lobito to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Copperbelt. Once fully operational, the Lobito Corridor could significantly improve the logistics costs and carbon footprint of exporting metals from the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex, the Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine, as well as the future development of any copper discoveries within the Western Foreland Exploration Project.
The announcement follows the recent award of a 30-year concession on the Angolan side of the Lobito Corridor,with the potential of a 20-year extension, to a consortium including Trafigura Pte Ltd., of Geneva, Switzerland, and Mota-Engil of Porto, Portugal. The consortium will be responsible for the operation, management and maintenance of the rail infrastructure and rolling stock from the Lobito port to the Angolan-DRC border. The agreement announced in the fourth quarter of 2022 involves a total investment of $450 million, including $166 million in infrastructure upgrades and $70 million in rolling stock. Further, on January 27, 2023, the governments of Angola, DRC, and Zambia signed the Lobito Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency Agreement (LCTTFA). The tri-partite LCTTFA aims to coordinate the joint development activities of the Lobito Corridor. The Lobito Corridor provides an alternative, strategic route to export markets for both Zambia and the DRC, which today both rely heavily on road transportation for the export of metals.
Ivanhoe Mines’ Executive Co-Chairman, Robert Friedland commented:
“The Lobito Corridor will soon be one of the most important trade routes for vital copper metal and other critical minerals required for our planet’s energy transition. The proposed investment by the U.S. Government emphasizes that a coordinated global effort is required to upgrade critical infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa to unlock the tremendous potential of this region, and in the process generate unprecedented economic benefits for the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbours, Angola and Zambia.
“The open access to the deep-water port in Lobito by rail would not be possible without the vision and investment made by our shareholders CITIC and Zijin. CITIC was instrumental in upgrading the Lobito port and the rail line in 2014, while our joint venture partner Zijin is currently active in upgrading road and border infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo to enable access to the Lobito Corridor from the Copperbelt, as well as improve existing export corridors.
“If we are to address the daunting challenges of global climate change, it is imperative that we have international cooperation to develop responsible mineral supply chains, in partnership with the local people and communities where these mineral deposits are located.”
Freight train on the Lobito Corridor, near the port of Lobito in Angola. The rail corridor, originally called the Benguela Railway, was first built at the turn of the 20th Century and in 2014 a $1.8 billion refurbishment was completed. Source: Ministry of Transport for Angola.
The freight terminal at the Lobito port, Angola. Refurbished in 2014, the container and general cargo terminal has a total area of 241,540 square metres, a berth of 1,199 metres and the capacity to handle more than 600,000 tons of non-containerized freight and 250,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containerized freight per year.
Figure 1. Map of export routes currently used by Kamoa-Kakula. Logistics costs account for over 30% of Kamoa-Kakula’s total cash costs (C1), due to the long in-land distances travelled by road for exports to reach port.
About Ivanhoe Mines
Ivanhoe Mines is a Canadian mining company focused on advancing its three principal projects in Southern Africa; the expansion of the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the DRC, the construction of the tier-one Platreef palladium-rhodium-platinum-nickel-copper-gold project in South Africa; and the restart of the historic ultra-high-grade Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine, also in the DRC.
Ivanhoe Mines also is exploring for new copper discoveries across its circa 2,400km2 of 90-100% owned exploration licences in the Western Foreland, located adjacent to, or in close proximity to, the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the DRC.