Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula concentrator plant begins Phase 2 ahead of schedule

The world’s fastest-growing and highest-grade major copper mining complex Kamoa-Kakula announced that it is ready to start the hot commissioning of its Phase 2, 3.8-million-tonne-per annum concentrator plant at the Kamoa-Kakula Mining Complex in the Democratic of Congo.

Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula concentrator plant updates: According to a statement published by Ivanhoe Mines Ltd on Tuesday, this development follows after the initial ore was introduced into the Phase 2 mining circuit on Monday, 21 March. Since then, the first copper concentrate has been produced, thus beating the mine’s original announced schedule by a whopping four months.  

The two concentrator plants (Phase 1 and Phase 2) are reportedly identical, with both having a design throughput of 475 dry tonners per hour, which is the equivalent of, as mentioned earlier, 3.8-million-tonnes of ore per year. 

With Phase 1 having exceeded design ore throughputs by between 10-15% over the last six months, the company expects Phase 2 to perform just as well. 

“The Phase 1 concentrator plant reached profitable production in July last year, which came roughly around two months after the beginning of hot commissioning, and reached design ore output in August 2021,” the statement read. 

Kamoa Copper‘s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mark Farren, projects that based on the success of the Phase 1 plant with it being ahead of schedule and on budget, the implementation of the Phase 2 plant will fall into place more seamlessly. 

“Given that the Phase 2 Plant has started earlier than anticipated, we expect to achieve the upper end of our production guidance for 2022, currently estimated at between 290,000 to 340,000 tonnes of copper“. 

Meanwhile, Co-Chair of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd (TSX: IVN) Robert Friedland, speaking In Switzerland on Tuesday to an international audience of mining and market leaders at the Financial Times Global Commodities Summit, announced the mining company’s following plans with regards to these two concentrator plants

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While commending the Kamoa Copper teams for getting the Phase 2 plant operational in less than ten months after the Phase 1 plant began operations, Friedland said the next steps were crucial in positioning the mine as a global leader in copper mining. 

“The ordering of the Phase 2 plant is the second important step on the path to establishing Kamoa-Kakula as one of the two largest mining complexes on our planet,” Friedland said. 

He also added that one of the mine’s objectives, becoming two of the largest mining complexes, is also creating a lifelong legacy of a sustainable mine. 

With Kamoa-Kakula aware of the challenges of sustainability in mining, it says that it takes its responsibility with this regard very seriously. 

Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula to focus on the Phase 3 expansion

Kamoa-Kakula is the greenest and highest grade major copper producer globally. As the Phase 2 plant is handed over to our control operations team, the projects team will now focus on the Phase 3 expansion, which is currently scheduled to begin operations by the end of 2024,” Friedland added. 

By producing copper, which is a green material owing to its thermal and electrical conductivity, coupled with the fact that it is 100% recyclable, the mining giant adds it also intends to produce more copper to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions. 

With the looming global climate change crisis, the mining giant stated in its press release that it considers itself a crucial part of the solution as it intended to provide the copper the world needs to advance the looming electrical future. 

Furthermore, Kamoa-Kakula stated that it and its partners are committed to generating profitable growth and enduring fiscal and societal benefits for the people of Congo. 

Other projects that Kamoa-Kakula has on its horizon include finding additional copper-like discoveries, which the Ivanhoe Mines management team will embark on using its Western Foreland exploration licenses. The mine says it will begin an extensive drilling campaign which will span over 95 000 meters in a geological setting similar to Kamoa-Kakula’s as part of this discovery exercise. 

Finally, the de-bottlenecking program is another program the company announced it was working on last month, which is also said to be progressing well within the anticipated schedules. This initiative which aims to eliminate processes that limit the pace of the production at Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrator plants, is expected to increase the combined design processing capacity of the two concentrators as mentioned earlier plants by approximately 21%, to 9.2 million tonnes per annum. Currently, the two concentrator plants’ design processing capacity stands at 7.6 million tonnes per annum. 

Having already started with its engineering design, the copper giant has already begun procuring the long-lead items. Further, he envisages that Kamoa-Kakula will have reached the combined processing capacity of 9.2 million tonnes per annum by 2023. 

Once the program is completed, the copper production from Kamoa Copper‘s first two phases is projected to surpass 450,000 tonnes per annum, making the copper giant rank in fourth place of the world’s top copper producer list. 

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper project is a corporation between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), multinational Chinese mining company the Zijn Mining Group (39, 6%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%), and Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%).  

Based on a ranking by independent research institutions, when the project capacity expands to 19 million tonnes per year, the mine will become the world’s second-largest copper mine, with an estimated output of 800,000 tonnes per annum. 

Meanwhile, when coming to its greenhouse emissions, project management and consultation firm Hatch Ltd. of Mississauga in 2020 confirmed that Kamoa-Kakula’s greenhouse intensity metrics showed that the Kamoa-Kakula project would be among the world’s lowest conservatory gas emitters per unit of copper produced. 

Additionally, the mine is also set to impress the relatively small surface footprint since 55% of the mine’s waste will be pumped back into the underground workings. 
With the mine already being powered by clean, renewable, and hydro-generated electricity, the DRC-based mine will ultimately have one of the most auspicious environmental footprints of any copper mine in its field (i.e., one-tier copper mine) all across the globe. 

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