Ivanhoe posts record normalised profit, adjusted earnings for 2023

Canadian miner Ivanhoe Mines has reported a record normalised profit…

Canadian miner Ivanhoe Mines has reported a record normalised profit of $388-million, as well as record adjusted earnings of $604-million for 2023.

The Kamoa-Kakula operation, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, achieved record earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of $1.68-billion for the year, while milling a record 8.5-million tonnes at an average grade of 5.23% copper.

The operation ultimately produced 393 551 t of copper in concentrate, which was within production guidance, despite intermittent grid instability.

Kamoa-Kakula’s cash costs of $1.45/lb were at the mid-point of the guided range for the year.

Since entering Phase 1 commercial production on July 1, 2021, the Kamoa-Kakula joint venture (JV) has generated $3.6-billion in Ebitda.

Ivanhoe advises that its Phase 3 concentrator project at Kamoa-Kakula is 82% complete and ahead of schedule for ramp-up in June. In turn, the smelter complex is about 76% advanced and on schedule for commissioning in the fourth quarter.

The smelter complex with its 500 000 t/y capacity will allow further carbon emission reductions of 46% for the operation, building on its already best-in-class emissions per unit of copper, for Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Another contributor to the company’s emission reduction efforts is the refurbishment of Turbine 5 at the Inga II hydropower dam, which is 60% complete as of February 26. It is expected to produce 178 MW of green hydroelectric power from the fourth quarter this year.

Ivanhoe chairperson Robert Friedland comments that Kamoa-Kakula continues to exceed expectations in terms of overall performance, with Phase 1 and 2 mill throughput, copper recoveries and underground mining operations registering strong results in 2023 – and in many cases outperforming nameplate capacity.

“Delivering a project of this calibre and scale on budget and ahead of schedule is a true anomaly in the mining industry, which is often plagued by cost overruns and delays,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Ivanhoe continues to progress drilling at the high-grade Kitoko discovery in the Western Forelands area. Kitoko is Ivanhoe’s most recent acquired JV licence in the Western Foreland, which is about 25 km west of the Kamoa-Kakula operation.

Friedland confirms that seven drill rigs are currently operating across the Western Forelands area. “Discovering and developing new world-scale copper resources on the Western Forelands represents the highest possible return on capital that Ivanhoe can drive for shareholders.”

Ivanhoe is also working together with DRC’s State-owned mining company, Gécamines, to restart the ultra-high-grade Kipushi zinc/copper/germanium/silver mine in the country. To this end, Ivanhoe has completed 85% of the construction for a concentrator, ahead of first production in the second quarter.

Friedland says the company looks forward to bringing this legendary mine back to life a century after it first produced as the world’s highest-grade openpit copper mine.  

On the platinum side, Ivanhoe’s Platreef project, in South Africa, is undergoing expansions to four-million tonnes a year of capacity, by equipping Shaft 3 for hoisting, while a study is underway for a Phase 3 expansion to ten-million tonnes a year.

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