SANTIAGO, CHILE - Robert M. Friedland, Chairman of Ivanhoe Nickel & Platinum (Ivanplats) and Ivanhoe Capital Corporation, announced today in an opening keynote address at the 8th World Copper Conference that Ivanplats has made a major copper discovery of historic importance at its 100%-owned Kamoa Project, west of Kolwezi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga province.
Sharing the news with a large audience of copper industry principals, representatives of financial institutions and investors, Mr. Friedland said that drilling at Kamoa has discovered laterally continuous, sediment-hosted, high-grade stratiform copper mineralization in a newly discovered copper district that forms a previously unrecognized western extension of the famous Central African Copperbelt - which hosts such world-class deposits such as Kolwezi, Tenke-Fungurume, Konkola and Nchanga.
“Our Kamoa discovery confirms the hypothesis of our exploration team, led by Executive Vice President of Exploration, David Broughton, that the western end of the Copperbelt in Congo does not terminate at Kolwezi,” Mr. Friedland said.
Speaking following the conference inauguration by Santiago Gonzalez, Chile’s Minister of Mines, and a keynote presentation by Jose Pablo Arellano, President and CEO of Chile’s state-owned copper miner, Codelco, Mr. Friedland expressed confidence that Kamoa will become a world-class mining camp of great importance to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“This vast Kamoa discovery, and the discoveries by Ivanhoe Mines at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, are the type of world-scale mineral systems needed to supply the copper for the electrification of the global economy, to usher in the era of the electric car and to reduce our planet’s consumption of hydrocarbons,” Mr. Friedland said.
“In a newly carbon-conscious world, everybody is going to become aware that copper is the green metal,” he added. “Given the challenges of the environmental priorities of America’s Obama administration, and of the aspirations and urbanization that emerging economies throughout Africa share with many nations, copper is the metal of our time.”
Underscoring the significance of the discovery, Mr. Broughton said, “We believe Kamoa represents the discovery of a previously unrecognized and richly endowed district within the Central African Copperbelt - geologically distinct, yet geographically next door to the well-known Kolwezi deposits. Our geophysical data indicate that the area on our tenements underlain by the Kamoa target horizon is on the order of 1,000 square kilometers, which we are systematically exploring.”
The Kamoa discovery occurs within a regional, northeast-southwest-trending structural corridor identified by Ivanplats’ pioneering, high-resolution, airborne magnetic survey - which was the first such survey to be flown in the area. The structural corridor has been traced for approximately 35 kilometres within Ivanplats’ exploration licences. Detailed geochemical surveys within the corridor discovered subtle copper-in-soil anomalies associated with five structural domes.
Follow-up reverse-circulation and diamond drilling at the northernmost dome, Kamoa Centrale, resulted in the discovery in mid-2008 of high grades and significant widths of stratiform copper mineralization in an area Copperbelt geologists previously thought to be barren.
Recognizing the potential for a major orebody, and prior to the onset of the seasonal sub-equatorial rains, Ivanplats launched an aggressive drilling program, with holes spaced one to five kilometers apart. This program confirmed and extended the mineralization over an open-ended area of approximately 74 square kilometers, surrounding Kamoa Centrale and part of the adjacent dome. The three southernmost structural domes, each with copper-in-soil anomalies similar to Kamoa Centrale, will not be drilled until the dry season, beginning in May - presenting another opportunity for further discoveries and expansion of the Kamoa mineralization.
Following the discovery, Ivanplats upgraded more than 30 kilometres of roads to permit drill access during the rains and completed an infill drilling program at 800-metre by 800-metre centres over the southern portion of Kamoa Centrale. This comprises an area of 11 square kilometers, representing 15% of the discovery area, and less than 10% of the area of the 35-kilometre-long structural corridor. The infill program now has confirmed the high grade, significant width and consistency of the Kamoa mineralization and will form the basis of an initial independent resource estimation. A total of 63 diamond and 44 reverse-circulation holes, totalling 27,028 metres, have been drilled to date.
The Kamoa geology and copper mineralization have important similarities to the laterally extensive stratiform copper deposits found in Poland’s Kupferschiefer (copper shale). In Poland’s Lubin district, the fourth-largest copper mining district in the world, the stratiform copper deposits extend over an area approximately 25 kilometres by 35 kilometres and have been mined for more than 40 years, with 2007 annual production totalling more than 530,000 tonnes of copper metal.
In addition to the Kamoa discovery, African Mining Consultants, of Kitwe, Zambia, which is contracted to conduct Ivanplats’ exploration in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has identified and is exploring more than 70 additional copper targets within Ivanplats’ tenements in the Copperbelt.
Mr. Friedland said that Kamoa will advance the Democratic Republic of Congo’s stature as one of the world’s most important copper producers. “Kamoa will become an important pillar of the country’s economy and help to build sustainable livelihoods and sustainable communities through social and economic programs responsive to local needs - all of which is extremely good news in the heart of Africa.”
Lars-Eric Johansson, Ivanplats’ President and CEO, said the company has been encouraged by the support received from the Ministry of Mines and other government departments for the company’s investment in drilling in the previously unexplored Kamoa district.
AMEC retained to prepare initial 43-101 resource report for Kamoa
Given the significance of the drill results received to date, Ivanplats has retained Dr. Harry Parker, P. Geo., Technical Director of the London-based international consulting firm AMEC E&C Services (AMEC), to prepare the initial 43-101 independent resource estimate for the Kamoa Project. Ivanplats also is planning an aggressive 2009 diamond drilling program to further explore and delineate resources within this region.
“We are confident that the initial resource estimate will provide us with the basis to move forward with an independent economic assessment of the project,” Mr. Broughton said. “The magnitude of the Kamoa discovery also highlights the prospectivity of Ivanplats’ extensive, 100%-owned exploration tenements covering nearly 14,000 square kilometres within the African Copperbelt in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Discussions underway with potential strategic partners
Mr. Friedland said that confidential discussions are underway with a carefully selected number of the world’s leading, private and state-owned international mining companies that could lead to the formation of a significant strategic partnership or syndicate for continued exploration and development of the Kamoa discovery.
“We know from experience in developing the world-class Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mining complex in Mongolia that a project of Kamoa’s size and scope would benefit from experienced strategic partners. We appreciate the encouragement we have received from the democratically elected government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and we will continue to work with its ministers to realize the potential of our discovery to the benefit of all stakeholders, while implementing the very best of international exploration, development and environmental practices.”
Hatch Corporate Finance, of London, is advising Ivanplats on its decision on the formation of potential strategic partnerships and a major international investment bank will be engaged to assist with the review.
High copper grades in supergene and hypogene mineralization
Grades and widths discovered at Kamoa are similar to those of the sediment-hosted stratiform copper deposits of the Ore Shale and Mine Series that historically have been mined in the Zambian and Congolese Copperbelts. The Kamoa mineralization broadly is of two types: primary mineralization below the zone of surficial weathering, and secondary mineralization at shallow depths.
The primary mineralization shares many attributes with other stratiform copper deposits, including vertical zoning of disseminated copper sulphide minerals from chalcocite to bornite to chalcopyrite, association with cobalt, silver, zinc and lead mineralization, and the presence of a pyritic hangingwall.
The secondary mineralization is dominated by chalcocite, and has higher copper values due to supergene enrichment (upgrading) during the weathering process. This type of mineralization occurs at depths of less than 200 metres and is a prime target for delineation drilling of potential open-pit resources.
At Kamoa, the hangingwall pyrite zone is significantly better developed than in Congolese and Zambian Copperbelt deposits. It typically ranges between 10 and 40 metres in thickness and has great potential to form a sulphur resource that could be processed to produce sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid (H2SO4) is in demand for SX-EW metallurgical processing of typical “oxide” ores of the Congolese Copperbelt, which are hosted in carbonate rocks and consume large quantities of sulphuric acid in the SX-EW copper extraction process.
Ivanhoe Nickel & Platinum’s Africa focus
Ivanhoe Nickel & Platinum Ltd., formerly known as African Minerals, is a private Canadian company held by Ivanhoe Capital Corporation, major U.S., Canadian and European banks, pension funds and 4 other financial institutions. CEO Lars-Eric Johansson has more than 35 years’ experience in the mining industry, and was formerly CFO of Kinross Gold, Falconbridge, Noranda and Boliden Minerals.
Executive Vice President-Exploration David Broughton has a M.Sc. in Economic Geology and 25 years’ experience in exploration and ore-deposit geology, most recently including 12 years in the Congolese and Zambian Copperbelts.
Founded in 1993, approximately one year before Ivanhoe Mines, Ivanhoe Nickel & Platinum has been Ivanhoe Capital’s exclusive vehicle for development of mineral resources on the African continent - establishing a model followed by Ivanhoe Mines as Ivanhoe Capital’s dedicated vehicle for mineral developments in the Asia Pacific region.
Ivanplats has assembled a portfolio of assets in central and southern Africa. The company holds 50 exploration permits covering approximately 14,000 square kilometres in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo through its wholly-owned subsidiary, African Minerals (Barbados) Limited sprl (AMBL). The licences cover ground within and surrounding the regional Copperbelt that contains numerous world-class, stratiform copper-cobalt deposits — most significantly those at Kolwezi and Tenke-Fungurume. AMBL has been exploring these licences since 2003.
In addition, Ivanplats is aggressively developing its world-class Platreef nickel-platinum-palladiumcopper-gold discovery on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex in South Africa, where several drill rigs are delineating a significant, high-grade polymetallic underground discovery.
Investor Relations: Bill Trenaman +1.604.688.5755
Media: Bob Williamson +1.604.688.5755.
Ivanhoe Nickel and Platinum
President & CEO: Lars-Eric Johansson - +44 20 7823 3888/ +44 78 1710 1633
Executive Vice President, Exploration: David Broughton +27.83.383.3227 / +1.613.608.2228
The technical and scientific information contained in this report relating to the company’s DRC exploration activities was reviewed and approved by David Broughton, M.Sc., Ivanplats’ Executive Vice President Exploration and a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.
African Mining Consultants of Kitwe, Zambia, carried out all DRC exploration activities, including drilling, sampling, and sample preparation of diamond core, on behalf of Ivanplats, under Mr. Broughton’s supervision. Samples were analysed at Ultra Trace Laboratories, Perth, Australia, with industry standard QA/QC protocols. The sampling and QA/QC program is monitored by independent consulting geochemist Richard Carver, B.Sc. (Hons) MAIG, FAAG, who has been providing ongoing consulting in this field to INPL since the inception of the project. Mr. Carver has 36 years’ industry experience in the field of exploration geochemistry.
Forward-looking statements and information
Statements in this release that are forward-looking statements, such as statements concerning the company’s planned initial public offering of shares and planned exploration programs, are subject to various risks and uncertainties concerning the specific factors disclosed here and elsewhere in the company’s periodic filings with Canadian securities regulators. When used in this document, the words such as “could”, “plan”, “estimate”, “expect”, “intend,” “may”, “potential”, “should”, and similar expressions, are forward-looking statements. Information provided in this document is necessarily summarized and may not contain all available material information.
Ivanplats’ activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996
Ivanplats, through its wholly-owned subsidiary African Minerals (Barbados) Limited sprl (AMBL), has been active in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996. AMBL became the registered holder of exploration permits (Zones Exclusives de Recherches,(or ZERs) covering the existing land position of approx 14,000 square kilometres in 1997. When the new mining code was enacted in 2002, followed by new mining regulations in 2003, the company reapplied for ground held under ZERs and was awarded Permits des Recherches (PRs), based on the new mining code, for the ground that Ivanplats previously held under ZER permits.
More than 70 areas of interest were identified through the use of aeromagnetic and radiometric airborne geophysical methods and surface geochemical sampling in 2004 and 2005. Initial reverse circulation drilling in 2006 at Kamoa and Makalu discovered stratiform copper mineralization at a different stratigraphic position than was typical for the Congolese Copperbelt, opening up new potential for the entire concession.
This drilling was followed up in the summer of 2008, resulting in the Kamoa discovery, where 63 diamond and 44 reverse-circulation holes, totalling 27,028 metres, have been drilled to date at Kamoa Centrale and the adjacent Makalu dome.
Since 2004, Ivanplats has invested approximately US$45 million in greenfields exploration in the DRC. The exploration programs have been managed and operated by African Mining Consultants, a Zambian company that has been active on the Copperbelt for 35 years.
Geology and Context of the Kamoa Discovery
The Kamoa discovery belongs to a globally important class of sediment-hosted stratiform copper deposits that are characterized by remarkable lateral continuity of mineralization and exceptional (>2%) primary copper grades. These deposits constitute nearly 25% of the world’s known past and present copper resources and occur mainly in late Precambrian and Permian-aged rocks. The Central African Copperbelt occurs in rocks of the Katangan Supergroup of late Precambrian age and is the world’s largest and richest sediment-hosted copper province. The largest stratiform copper deposits rival the world’s major porphyry copper deposits in terms of amounts of contained metal.
The Central African Copperbelt historically consisted of two major districts: the Zambian and Congolese (Shaban) Copperbelts — each with distinct geology. In Zambia, the main ore host is the so-called Ore Shale, which averages about seven metres’ thickness and 2.7% copper. World-class orebodies, such as Konkola, Nchanga and Nkana, occur along a regional structural corridor, the Ore Shale Alignment, and individually have average strike lengths of more than 10 kilometres. The regional structural corridor that hosts the Kamoa Centrale discovery and other copper-anomalous structural domes is considered analogous to Ore Shale Alignment, underlining the importance of Ivanplats’ discovery and tenements.
The Kamoa area lies west of the town of Kolwezi, historically the mining hub of the Congolese Copperbelt. World-class stratiform copper deposits of the Congolese Copperbelt occur within the Mines Series, such that exploration traditionally focused on identifying and delineating these rocks. Because historical mapping in the Kamoa area indicated that the productive Mines Series was absent, the area was left unexplored.
The Kamoa mineralization has important differences with the orebodies in Zambia and Congo Copperbelts, in that the host rocks are relatively undisturbed. This lack of disruption has major implications for continuity and geometry of mineralization, as evidenced by the remarkable extent and consistent gentle dips of mineralization. In this sense, the Kamoa mineralization is comparable to that of the Polish Kupferschiefer, which is mined underground at depths of 400 to 1500 metres over an area of almost 900 square kilometres.