KOLWEZI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN; OTCQX:IVPAF) Co-Chairs Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun announced today that, given the fast-evolving global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is providing further details on the rigorous protective measures it has implemented to protect the health and well-being of its employees, contractors and local communities while ensuring business continuity at the Kamoa-Kakula Project.
In response to government-imposed travel restrictions and emergency protocols being introduced worldwide, strict quarantine and lock-down procedures have been implemented at all three of the company’s projects ─ Kamoa-Kakula, Platreef and Kipushi ─ to prevent the virus from spreading to the minesites. To date, no COVID-19 cases have been discovered.
At Kamoa-Kakula, the minesite has been locked down and all key personnel is on site, except for the supply of food and critical equipment under strict delivery protocols. A total of 881 employees, who were previously based in surrounding communities and Kolwezi, have been moved to permanent minesite accommodation, and up to 250 additional employees will be moved to the minesite once accommodations have been expanded and subject to appropriate and stringent quarantine protocols. At present, a total of 3,532 employees and contractors are based at the minesite, which ensures operational continuity and minimizes the impact on the development schedule.
Platreef has temporarily suspended its shaft-sinking operations until at least April 16th in compliance with the 21-day, country-wide lock down imposed by the South African Government effective March 26th. The project is maintaining a small workforce to conduct care and maintenance activities in order to have the operation ready for when project development resumes.
Kipushi also has temporarily suspended operations in order to reduce the risk to the workforce and local communities. The project is maintaining a small workforce to conduct care and maintenance activities, and to maintain pumping operations.
Following the guidelines outlined by the World Health Organization, while drawing on the experience of its China-based partners – CITIC Metal and Zijin Mining – and well before the situation was declared a pandemic, the company appointed a task team from senior management with overall responsibility for COVID-19 response planning.
The team is led by Dr. Nicolette Du Plessis, a specialist in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and a Professor at the University of Pretoria, and includes specialist doctors, paramedics, nurses, as well as counsel from several external, world-leading epidemiologists. Dr. Du Plessis is president of the Southern African Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases and president-elect of the Federation of Infectious Diseases Societies of Southern Africa.
The task team, together with its 16-strong and expanding, on site Kamoa-Kakula Project medical response team and its medical service provider, Medical Support Solutions of the United Kingdom, has access to some of the best advice from medical experts from around the globe and has implemented key procedures across the business to ensure minimal disruption to its operations.
Dr. Nicolette Du Plessis, a specialist in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and a Professor at the University of Pretoria, is leading Ivanhoe Mines’ COVID-19 response team.
At the Kamoa-Kakula Project, the company has implemented strict isolation procedures in the event of higher risk personnel or potential COVID-19 cases. Ten intensive care units, each equipped with a ventilator, and 20 high-care units will be available to treat potential patients, in addition to a quarantine facility for up to 60 potential patients.
The company already has procured abundant critical protective supplies for its minesite medical professionals, including surgical gloves and N95 face masks. In addition, Ivanhoe’s largest shareholder, CITIC Metal, has assisted with the procurement of a very substantial number of coronavirus diagnostic test kits. The company will distribute the test kits to its projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa to enforce its health and safety protocols during the pandemic and to ensure business continuity at the Kamoa-Kakula Project.
In addition, the company is working closely with its host governments, which have acted swiftly and decisively in legislating measures to curb the spread of the disease. Together with the DRC and South African Ministries of Health, the company is sourcing a number of early-stage treatments that could potentially prevent a country-wide outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
Robert Friedland said, “We are taking action to support our employees and communities as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Our aim is to keep our operations running safely, and we are monitoring the situation closely.”
“The nature of our mine development projects is such that certain work cannot be done remotely, so our focus is on reducing the risk of the virus spreading to our projects. Operational continuity is critical for jobs, the communities around our operations, and the local economies. We will continue to adapt our response as this situation evolves, with our primary focus being the health and safety of our people.”
“The Ivanhoe team is comprised of an extraordinary group of people. I have absolute confidence that working together we will meet these challenges and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever,” Mr. Friedland added.
Members of Kamoa-Kakula’s on-site medical team in place to quickly identify and treat any potential COVID-19 cases and prevent the spread to other personnel.
Front row, L-R: Salva Mujinga Tshimanga (nurse); Augustin Kabedi Mujinga (nurse); Papy Wedialumbele Lumasa (nurse); Asmara Ally (ALS paramedic); Dr. De Delvareine Kabwayi Buyamba (medical doctor).
Second row, L-R: Tresor Kasongo Dibwe (nurse); Paulin Mwanza Umbanga (nurse); Greg Hillen (ALS paramedic); Timothee Bwana Ngoie (nurse); Christian Masengo Ngoy (nurse); Adellard Muyambo Kazenga (nurse); Prince Hlongwane (ALS paramedic); Dr. Patrick Kasongo Ngoyi (health manager); and Alain Sambwe Masengo (nurse).
Dr. Delvareine Kabwayi Buyamba practicing medical response procedures with a ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Kakula hospital.
Kakula Copper Mine continues to make excellent underground mine development progress
Underground development at the Kakula Copper Mine continues to advance at a rapid pace. Approximately 12 kilometres of underground development now is complete, which is roughly 3.4 kilometres ahead of plan. In March, the mining team set another new monthly development record of more than 1,350 metres − more than 330 metres ahead of plan for the month. A second owner’s crew, comprised of local Congolese miners who were fully trained on site, has begun underground development work as the project transitions towards an all-owner mining team.
Two of the underground mining crews operating semi-autonomous double-boom jumbo drillsat the Kakula Mine.
Construction crew extending the wall at Kakula’s main underground water storage dam.
Construction on the underground rock-handling system and conveyor belt is progressing, and it is expected to be operational this month. The reaming of Ventilation Shaft 2 at Kakula South has been completed, providing additional ventilation to the southern portion of the Kakula Mine.
The high-volume conveyor system that will transport broken ore from underground up the decline to the pre-production ore stockpiles.
Workers putting the finishing touches on an ‘apron feeder’ that will load ore from one of Kakula’s 5,000-tonne underground ore bins onto the conveyor.
Kakula’s underground construction team nearing completion of the bottom structure of the east tip, part of the underground ore handling system at Kakula.
Raise boring machine breaks through to surface, marking the completion of reaming the 5.5-metre diameter Ventilation Shaft 2 at the Kakula Mine.
Construction of Kakula’s 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum surface processing plant is advancing rapidly. Initial civil construction has prioritized the run-of-mine stockpiles and ball mills foundation.
Construction workers erecting steel rebar prior to the next concrete pour for the foundations to support the ball mills for Kakula’s initial 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum processing plant.
Pouring the concrete foundations for the processing plant’s concentrate thickener.
Ongoing construction of the processing plant’s flotation circuit.
The Kamoa-Kakula Project sources materials and equipment from companies with manufacturing facilities located in various countries around the globe, some of which have operations impacted by COVID-19. The engineering team is assessing the impact on the procurement schedule, as well as reduced site activity, on the overall development schedule.
About Ivanhoe Mines
Ivanhoe Mines is a Canadian mining company focused on advancing its three principal joint-venture projects in Southern Africa: the development of a major new copper mine at the Kamoa-Kakula discoveries in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Platreef palladium-platinum-nickel-copper-rhodium-gold discovery in South Africa; and the extensive redevelopment and upgrading of the historic Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine, also in the DRC. Ivanhoe also is exploring for new copper discoveries on its wholly-owned Western Foreland exploration licences in the DRC, near the Kamoa-Kakula Project.
Investors: Bill Trenaman +1.604.331.9834 / Media: Matthew Keevil +1.604. 558.1034
Certain statements in this news release constitute “forward-looking statements” or “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Such statements and information involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the company, its projects, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information. Such statements can be identified by the use of words such as “may”, “would”, “could”, “will”, “intend”, “expect”, “believe”, “plan”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “scheduled”, “forecast”, “predict” and other similar terminology, or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved. These statements reflect the company’s current expectations regarding future events, performance and results and speak only as of the date of this release.
Such statements include without limitation, the timing and results of: (i) statements regarding Ivanhoe’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; (ii) the anticipated resumption of temporarily suspended activities; and (iii) statements regarding the expectation that the underground rock-handling system and conveyor belt at Kakula it is expected to be operational in April.
Forward-looking statements and information involve significant risks and uncertainties, should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results and will not necessarily be accurate indicators of whether or not such results will be achieved. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements or information, including, but not limited to, the factors discussed under “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in the company’s 2019 Year End MD&A, as well as unexpected changes in laws, rules or regulations, or their enforcement by applicable authorities; the failure of parties to contracts with the company to perform as agreed; social or labour unrest; changes in commodity prices; and the failure of exploration programs or studies to deliver anticipated results or results that would justify and support continued exploration, studies, development or operations.
Although the forward-looking statements contained in this news release are based upon what management of the company believes are reasonable assumptions, the company cannot assure investors that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements.
These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this news release and are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. Subject to applicable securities laws, the company does not assume any obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this news release.
The company’s actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of the factors set forth in the “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in the company’s 2019 Year End MD&A, unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019 and its Annual Information Form.