The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project — 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%) — has been independently ranked as the world's largest, undeveloped, high-grade copper discovery by international mining consultant Wood Mackenzie. It is a very large, near-surface, flat-lying, stratiform copper deposit with adjacent prospective exploration areas within the Central African Copperbelt, approximately 25 kilometres west of the town of Kolwezi and about 270 kilometres west of the provincial capital of Lubumbashi.

Technical Reports 2020

Click here to view the Kamoa-Kakula Integrated Development Plan 2020

Click here to view the Kamoa-Kakula 2020 Resource Update, March 2020

First copper production expected in July 2021

Initial production at the Kakula Mine processing plant is scheduled in July 2021. Kakula is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) at an estimated average feed grade of more than 6.0% copper over the first five years of operation. Kakula is the first of multiple, planned, high-grade mining areas on the 400-square-kilometre Kamoa-Kakula mining licence. 

The Kakula Mine will have one of the most favourable environmental footprints of any tier-one copper mine worldwide. The mine will be powered by clean, renewable hydroelectricity and be among the world's lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced. Kakula also will have a relatively small surface footprint, as approximately 55% of the mine’s tailings will be pumped back into underground workings.

All long-lead items for Kakula’s initial 3.8-Mtpa processing plant now have been delivered to site with the exception of the transformers, which are currently en route and expected around the third week of October.

On October 1, 2020, Ivanhoe Mines announced that underground development at the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project totalled 2,069 metres in September, setting a new monthly record for the project and bringing the total underground development to more than 22.6 kilometres – approximately 7.0 kilometres, or 44% ahead of schedule.



A Floatation platform lift during construction of the initial Kakula Copper Mine

The project’s monthly total of 2,069 metres of underground development is comprised of 1,696 metres at the Kakula Mine and 373 metres at the Kansoko Mine, which is located at the Kamoa Deposit – approximately 10 kilometres north of the Kakula Mine.

Several underground development headings at the Kakula Mine now have transitioned into the higher-grade ore zones near the centre of the deposit, grading between approximately +5% copper and +8% copper. October will be the first month of mining in Kakula’s high-grade ore from the southern access drives, and this ore will be stored on a separate high-grade surface stockpile near the southern decline. Mining on the northern side of the orebody also will soon intersect the higher grade ore.

The main access drives between northern and southern declines have less than 520 metres remaining before they connect in the high-grade centre of the deposit. The connection is expected to occur next month and will significantly increase ventilation to the centre of the orebody, allowing for additional mining crews to begin work in Kakula’s high-grade ore zones.


The Kakula Copper Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is on track for first production in Q3 2021

In addition to driving the main connecting access drives, underground mining crews at Kakula are focused on preparation work for developing the high grade, drift-and-fill stoping blocks in the centre of the orebody, where the average grade is up to +8% copper. Opening up of the mining footprint for these high-grade stoping areas entails development work in areas of low-, medium- and high-grade ore, and is designed to coincide with the start-up of the processing plant next year. This will allow mining crews to deliver high-grade stoping ore directly from the underground to the processing plant.

Drift-and-fill stoping is a highly-efficient form of underground mechanized mining and will allow the operation to efficiently recover significantly more tonnes from the orebody. Once drift-and-fill stoping operations begin, mining at the Kakula Mine will produce a significantly higher proportion of high-grade stoping ore than lower-grade development ore.

Underground development at the Kansoko Mine currently is in low-to-medium-grade ore zones, grading between approximately +2% and +3% copper. Kansoko is being developed by training crews and will be a supplemental source of ore when the Kakula concentrator processing capacity doubles to 7.6 Mtpa − currently planned to be commissioned in Q2 2022.

Pre-production surface ore stockpiles now total more than 803,000 tonnes

In September, mining crews at the Kakula and Kansoko mines produced and transported to surface approximately 132,000 tonnes of ore, bringing the project’s total pre-production ore stockpiles to an estimated 803,000 tonnes. September’s ore production is approximately 24% higher than August.


Aerial view of the Kakula North stockpile

The ore being mined from the northern portion of the Kakula Mine is transported to surface via the conveyor system and placed on a blended surface stockpile that now contains 540,000 tonnes grading an estimated 3.73% copper; comprised of 125,000 tonnes of high-grade ore grading 6.00% copper, and 415,000 tonnes of medium-grade ore grading 3.05% copper.

Two additional, pre-production ore stockpiles are located at the Kakula South decline (approximately 168,000 tonnes grading 2.73% copper) and the Kansoko decline (approximately 95,000 tonnes grading 2.34% copper).

Kamoa-Kakula Integrated Development Plan 2020 (IDP 2020)

In September 2020, Ivanhoe Mines announced extremely positive findings of an independent definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the development of the Kakula Copper Mine; together with an updated pre-feasibility study (PFS) that includes ore mined from the nearby Kansoko Copper Mine in addition to ore mined from Kakula; and an updated, expanded preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the overall development plan of all the copper discoveries made to date at the Kamoa-Kakula Project on the Central African Copperbelt in the DRC.

The DFS, PFS and updated PEA, collectively referred to as the Kamoa-Kakula Integrated Development Plan 2020 (Kamoa-Kakula IDP20), build on the excellent results of the previous studies announced in February 2019. The new DFS incorporates the advancement of development and construction activities to date, and has once again confirmed the outstanding economics of the first phase Kakula Mine. As well, the expanded PEA shows the excellent potential to develop the project to a much larger scale and with a significantly larger production capacity.


Kamoa-Kakula mining licence, showing the Kamoa, Kamoa North, Kakula and Kakula West Mineral Resource areas, and a portion of Ivanhoe’s 100% owned Western Foreland area.

The Kamoa-Kakula Integrated Development Plan 2020 encompasses three development scenarios:

  • Definitive feasibility study for stage one Kakula Mine development. The Kakula 2020 DFS evaluates the development of a stage one, 6-Mtpa underground mine and surface processing complex at the Kakula Deposit with a capacity of 7.6 Mtpa, built in two modules of 3.8 Mtpa, with the first already under advanced construction.
  • Pre-feasibility study including Kansoko Mine development. The Kakula-Kansoko 2020 PFS evaluates the development of mining activities at the Kansoko Deposit in addition to the Kakula Mine, initially at a rate of 1.6 Mtpa to fill the concentrator at Kakula, eventually ramping up to 6 Mtpa as the reserves at Kakula are depleted.
  • Expanded, subsequent development to four producing mines. The Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA includes an analysis of the potential for an integrated, 19-Mtpa, multi-stage development, beginning with initial production from the Kakula Mine, to be followed by subsequent, separate underground mining operations at the nearby Kansoko, Kakula West and Kamoa North mines, along with the construction of a direct-to-blister smelter. The Kamoa North Area comprises five separate mines that would be developed as resources are mined out elsewhere, to maintain the production rate at up to 19 Mtpa, with an overall life in excess of 40 years.

The Kamoa-Kakula IDP20, which includes the Kakula 2020 DFS, Kakula-Kansoko 2020 PFS and Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA, was independently prepared on a 100%-basis by OreWin Pty Ltd. of Adelaide, Australia; China Nerin Engineering Co., Ltd., of Jiangxi, China; DRA Global of Johannesburg, South Africa; Epoch Resources of Johannesburg, South Africa; Golder Associates Africa of Midrand, South Africa; KGHM Cuprum R&D Centre Ltd. of Wroclaw, Poland; Outotec Oyj of Helsinki, Finland; Paterson and Cooke of Cape Town, South Africa; Stantec Consulting International LLC of Phoenix, USA; SRK Consulting Inc. of Johannesburg, South Africa; and Wood plc of Reno, USA.


Mill construction during development of the initial Kakula Copper Mine

The Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA is preliminary in nature and includes an economic analysis that is based, in part, on Inferred Mineral Resources. Inferred Mineral Resources are considered too speculative geologically for the application of economic considerations that would allow them to be categorized as Mineral Reserves – and there is no certainty that the results will be realized. Mineral Resources do not have demonstrated economic viability and are not Mineral Reserves.

Modular, integrated, expanded development option potential for the Kakula and Kamoa deposits, mining a total of 19 Mtpa, with construction of a direct-to-blister smelter

  • The Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA presents an additional development option of a multi-stage, sequential operation on Kamoa-Kakula’s high-grade copper deposits.
  • Initial production from the Kakula Mine at a rate of 6 Mtpa, followed by subsequent, separate underground mining operations at the nearby Kansoko, Kakula West and Kamoa North mines, along with the construction of a direct-to-blister smelter. The Kamoa North Area comprises five separate mines that will be developed as resources are mined out elsewhere, to maintain the production rate at up to 19 Mtpa, with an overall life in excess of 40 years.
  • For the integrated, 19-Mtpa, multi-stage development, the PEA envisages US$0.7 billion in remaining initial capital costs. Future expansion at the Kansoko Mine, Kakula West Mine and Kamoa North mines would be funded by cash flows from the Kakula Mine, resulting in an after-tax net present value at an 8% discount rate (NPV8%) of US$11.1 billion, an internal rate of return of 56.2%, and a payback period of 3.6 years.
  • Ivanhoe’s proportional share of the remaining initial capital cost of this option is approximately US$0.36 billion for the Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA.
  • Under this approach, the PEA also contemplates the construction of a direct-to-blister copper smelter at the Kakula plant site with a capacity to process one million tonnes of copper concentrate per annum to be funded from internal cash flows. This would be completed in year five of operations, achieving significant savings in treatment charges and transportation costs.
  • The 19-Mtpa scenario shows the potential for average annual production of 501,000 tonnes of copper at a total cash cost of US$1.07/lb. copper during the first 10 years of operations and production of 805,000 tonnes of copper by year 8. At this future production rate, Kamoa-Kakula would rank as the world’s second largest copper mine.

Figure 1. Kamoa-Kakula 19-Mtpa PEA long-term development plan.

Figure by OreWin 2020.

Figure 2. Overview of deposits included within the Kakula 2020 DFS(6 Mtpa ─ outlined by blue dotted line), Kakula-Kansoko 2020 PFS (7.6 Mtpa ─ outlined by purple dotted line) and Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA (outlined by green dotted line).

Figure by OreWin 2020.

Key initial projections from the Kakula 2020 DFS

The study evaluates the development of a stage one, 6-Mtpa underground mine and surface processing complex at the Kakula Deposit of 7.6 Mtpa, built in two modules of 3.8 Mtpa, with the first already under advanced construction. The first module of 3.8 Mtpa commences production in Q3 2021, and the second in Q1 2023. The life-of-mine production scenario provides for 110 million tonnes to be mined at an average grade of 5.22% copper, producing 8.5 million tonnes of high-grade copper concentrate, containing approximately 10.8 billion pounds of copper.

The economic analysis uses a consensus, real long-term copper price of US$3.10/lb. (excluding inflation) and returns an after-tax NPV at an 8% discount rate of US$5.5 billion. It has an after-tax IRR of 77.0% and a payback period of 2.3 years.

The estimated remaining initial capital cost, including contingency, is US$0.65 billion from July 1, 2020. The capital expenditure for off-site power, which is included in the remaining initial capital cost, includes advances to the DRC state-owned electricity company, Société Nationale d'Electricité (SNEL), to upgrade two hydropower plants (Koni and Mwadingusha) to provide the Kamoa-Kakula Project with access to clean electricity for its planned operations. The hydro-power upgrading work is being led by Stucky Ltd., of Renens, Switzerland, and the advance payments will be recovered by Kamoa-Kakula through a reduction in the power tariffs paid.

Aerial picture of the Mwadingusha hydro-electric dam and power plant, with the new installed penstocks. Mwadingusha will soon be delivering 72 megawatts (MW) of clean, sustainable hydro-electricity to the national grid. The Kakula Mine is scheduled to be energized with permanent, 220-kilovolt (kV), hydro-generated power from the national grid in early 2021.

Expanded 19-Mtpa development scenario for the Kakula and Kamoa deposits

The Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA also assesses an additional development option of mining several deposits on the Kamoa-Kakula Project as an integrated, 19-Mtpa mining, processing and smelting complex, built in multiple stages. This scenario envisages the construction and operation of three separate mines: first, an initial 6-Mtpa mining operation would be established at the Kakula Mine on the Kakula Deposit; this is followed by a subsequent, separate 6-Mtpa mining operation at the Kansoko Mine, where two crews are working already; a third 6-Mtpa mine then will be established at the Kakula West Mine, in addition to a fourth initial mine in the Kamoa North area operating initially at 1 Mtpa. The processing plant is constructed in five modules of 3.8 Mtpa, with an ultimate capacity of 19 Mtpa.

As the resources at the Kakula, Kansoko and Kakula West mines are mined out, production would begin sequentially at five other mines in the Kamoa North area to maintain throughput of 19 Mtpa to the then existing concentrator and smelter complex, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Each mining operation is expected to be a separate underground mine with a shared processing facility and surface infrastructure located at Kakula. Material will be transported to the Kakula processing complex by a system of overland conveyors. Included in this scenario is the construction of a direct-to-blister copper smelter with a capacity of one million tonnes of copper concentrate per annum.

The Kamoa-Kakula 2020 PEA is preliminary in nature and includes an economic analysis that is based, in part, on Inferred Mineral Resources. Inferred Mineral Resources are considered too speculative geologically for the application of economic considerations that would allow them to be categorized as Mineral Reserves – and there is no certainty that the results will be realized. Mineral Resources do not have demonstrated economic viability and are not Mineral Reserves.

Ultra-high-grade drill core, comprised almost entirely of chalcocite, from a hole drilled at Kamoa North. Kamoa North is an important source of high-grade ore in Kamoa-Kakula’s expanded 19 Mtpa development scenario. Chalcocite has the greatest percentage of copper of all the common sulphide-copper-bearing minerals ─ almost 80% copper by weight.

Summary of the PEA’s key results for the 19-Mtpa development scenario

  1. Very-high-grade initial phase projected to have a grade of 6.8% copper in the first year of production and an average grade of 5.1% copper during the first 10 years of operations, resulting in estimated average annual copper production of 501,000 tonnes.
  1. Recovered copper production is estimated at805,000 tonnes in year 8, which would rank the Kamoa-Kakula Project as the second largest copper producer in the world.
  1. Remaining initial capital cost, including contingency, is US$0.71 billion, with subsequent expansions at Kansoko, Kakula West, and other mining areas, as well as the smelter, to be fundedbycash flows from the Kakula Mine.
  1. Average total cash costs of US$1.07/lb. copper during the first 10 years, including sulphuric acid credits.
  1. After-tax NPV, at an 8% discount rate, of US$11.1 billion.
  1. After-tax IRR of 56.2% and a payback period of 3.6 years.

Kamoa-Kakula Project 2020 Mineral Reserve

ClassificationOre (Mt)Copper (%)CopperCopper
(Contained Mlb)(Contained kt)
Proven Kakula Mineral Reserve
Probable Kakula Mineral Reserve1105.2212,6655,745
Proven Kansoko Mineral Reserve
Probable Kansoko Mineral Reserve1253.8110,5254,774
Proven Kamoa-Kakula Mineral Reserve
Probable Kamoa-Kakula Mineral Reserve235 4.47 23,190 10,519

Notes to accompany Kamoa-Kakula Project 2020 Mineral Reserve table:

  1. The real long term copper price used for calculating the financial analysis is US$3.10/lb. The analysis has been calculated with assumptions for smelter refining and treatment charges, deductions and payment terms, concentrate transport, metallurgical recoveries, and royalties.
  2. For mine planning, the copper price used to calculate block model Net Smelter Returns (NSRs) was US$3.00/lb. for Kansoko and US$3.10/lb. for Kakula.
  3. An elevated cut-off of US$100.00/t NSR was used to define the stoping blocks. A marginal cut-off of US$80.00/t NSR was used to define ore and waste. 
  4. Indicated Mineral Resources were used to report Probable Mineral Reserves. 
  5. Tonnage and grade estimates include dilution and recovery allowances.
  6. The Mineral Reserves reported above are not additive to the Mineral Resources.

Consolidated Kamoa and Kakula 2020 Mineral Resources

In February 2020, Ivanhoe announced an updated Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource estimate for the Kamoa Deposit that includes resources in the new Kamoa North Bonanza Zone and the Kamoa Far North Zone. The new Kamoa Mineral Resource estimate has an effective date of January 30, 2020 and was prepared by George Gilchrist, Ivanhoe Mines’ Vice President, Mineral Resources, under the direction of Gordon Seibel, RM SME, of the Wood Group (formerly Amec Foster Wheeler), of Reno, USA , and is reported in accordance with the 2014 CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves. Mr. Seibel is the Qualified Person for the estimate.

The project's geological team also updated the Mineral Resource estimate for the Kakula Deposit. This updated estimate has an effective date of November 2018. Effective January 30, 2020, the total, combined Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources for the Kamoa-Kakula Project is shown in Table 8. Tables showing the Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources separately for the Kamoa and Kakula deposits, as well as the sensitivity of Mineral Resources to cut-off grade, are shown in the appendices to this release.

Table 8. Total Kamoa and Kakula Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource (at 1% total copper cut-off grade).

DepositCategoryTonnes
(millions)
Area
(Sq. km)
Copper Grade
(%)
Vertical Thickness
(m)
Contained Copper
(kt)
Contained Copper
(billion lbs)
KamoaIndicated76055.22.735.020,80045.8
Inferred23521.81.704.04,0108.8
KakulaIndicated62721.72.7410.317,20037.9
Inferred1045.61.616.71,6803.7
Total Kamoa-Kakula ProjectIndicated1,38777.02.746.538,00083.7
Inferred33927.41.684.55,69012.5

Notes to accompany the total, combined Kamoa and Kakula January 2020 Mineral Resource table:

  1. Ivanhoe’s Vice President, Resources, George Gilchrist, a Fellow of the Geology Society of South Africa and Professional Natural Scientist (Pr. Sci. Nat) with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP), estimated the Kamoa Mineral Resources under the supervision of Gordon Seibel, a Registered Member (RM) of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), an employee of Wood Group, who is the Qualified Person for the Mineral Resource estimate. The effective date of the estimate is January 30, 2020 and the cut-off date for drill data is January 20, 2020. Mineral Resources are estimated using the CIM 2014 Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves. Mineral Resources are reported inclusive of Mineral Reserves on a 100% basis.
  2. Mineral Resources are reported using a total copper (TCu) cut-off grade of 1% TCu and a minimum vertical thickness of 3 m. There are reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction under assumptions of a copper price of US$3.00/lb, employment of underground mechanized room-and-pillar and drift-and-fill mining methods, and that copper concentrates will be produced and sold to a smelter. Mining costs are assumed to be US$27/t. Concentrator, tailings treatment, and general and administrative costs (G&A) are assumed to be US$17/t. Metallurgical recoveries are expected to average 84% (86%  for hypogene and 81% for supergene). At a 1% TCu cut-off grade, assumed net smelter returns for 100% of Mineral Resource blocks will cover processing, tailings treatment and G&A costs.
  3. Reported Mineral Resources contain no allowances for hanging wall or foot wall contact boundary loss and dilution. No mining recovery has been applied.
  4. Depth of mineralization below the surface ranges from 10 m to 1,320 m for Indicated Mineral Resources and 20 m to 1,560 m for Inferred Mineral Resources.
  5. Approximate drill-hole spacings are 800 m for Inferred Mineral Resources and 400 m for Indicated Mineral Resources.
  6. The average dip of the deposit within the Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource outlines is 12.7 degrees. Vertical thickness approximates true thickness at Kamoa.
  7. Rounding as required by reporting guidelines may result in apparent summation differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content.
  8. Ivanhoe’s Vice President, Resources, George Gilchrist, a Fellow of the Geology Society of South Africa and Professional Natural Scientist (Pr. Sci. Nat) with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP), estimated the Kakula Mineral Resources under the supervision of Gordon Seibel, a Registered Member (RM) of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), an employee of Wood Group, who is the Qualified Person for the Mineral Resources. The effective date of the estimate for Kakula is November 10, 2018, and the cut-off date for the drill data is November 1, 2018. Mineral Resources are estimated using the CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Reserves (2014) and reported on a 100% basis. Mineral Resources are reported inclusive of Mineral Reserves on a 100% basis.
  9. Mineral Resources are reported using a total copper (TCu) cut-off grade of 1% TCu and an approximate minimum thickness of 3 m. There are reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction under assumptions of a copper price of US$3.00/lb, employment of underground, mechanized, room-and-pillar and drift-and-fill mining methods, and that copper concentrates will be produced and sold to a smelter. Mining costs are assumed to be US$42/t. Concentrator, tailings treatment and general and administrative (G&A) costs are assumed to be US$18/t. Metallurgical recovery is assumed to average 85%. Ivanhoe is studying reducing mining costs using a controlled convergence room-and-pillar method. At a 1% TCu cut-off grade, assumed net smelter returns for 100% of Mineral Resource blocks will cover concentrator, tailings treatment and G&A costs.
  10. Reported Mineral Resources contain no allowances for hanging wall or footwall contact boundary loss and dilution. No mining recovery has been applied.
  11. Approximate drill-hole spacings are 800 m for Inferred Mineral Resources and 400 m for Indicated Mineral Resources.
  12. The average dip of the deposit within the Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource outlines is 17.8 degrees. Vertical thickness approximates true thickness at Kakula.
  13. Rounding as required by reporting guidelines may result in apparent differences between tonnes, grade and contained metal content.

Tonnes and grades were calculated for the mining blocks, and allowances for unplanned dilution and mining recovery were applied to estimate the Mineral Reserve Statement.

Click here to view the full technical report titled: Kamoa-Kakula 2018 Resource Update, March 2018

Click here to view the Kakula 2016 Preliminary Economic Assessment, January 2017

As Ivanhoe Mines and its joint-venture partner, Zijin Mining, continue to advance construction of the Kakula Copper Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivanhoe is pleased to present a short, animated video showing the planned development for the six-million-tonne-per-annum (6 Mtpa) underground mine and surface processing facilities.

The Kamoa-Kakula Project transforms local communities through sustainable agriculture, fish-farming and employment opportunities. Watch the video below to learn more about the Kamoa-Kakula Sustainable Livelihoods Program.

In March 2015, Ivanhoe's exploration team received the 2015 PDAC Thayer Lindsley International Discovery Award for Kamoa

Environmental Impact Reports

Kamoa-Kakula Project - Environmental Impact Study Update June 2017Click to view PDF

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