Underground development at Ivanhoe Mines’ Kakula Copper project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to exceed expectations with more than 17km now complete, which is 5.1km ahead of schedule.

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%). Image credit: Ivanhoe Mines

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%). Image credit: Ivanhoe Mines

In June 2020, the mining team achieved 1 729m of underground development – 575m ahead of plan for the month.

Kakula’s 2 000-tonne-per-hour ore conveyor system began operations in June, which will further increase the mine’s pace of underground development. Most of the development headings at the Kakula mine currently are traversing medium-grade sections of the orebody, with average grades ranging between 3% and 5% copper. Several development headings are continuing in high-grade zones grading more than 8% copper, and this ore is being placed on a dedicated, high-grade surface stockpile at Kakula North that now totals about 68 000 tonnes grading an estimated 5.90% copper.

The medium-grade surface stockpiles at Kakula North, Kakula South and Kansoko together contain an additional 394 000 tonnes grading an estimated 2.71% copper. As Kakula’s underground development progresses over the next few months, the majority of the headings are expected to transition into the high-grade ore zones.

More than 200 truck-loads, consisting mainly of structural steel and equipment for Kakula’s initial 3.8-million-tonne-per-annum processing plant, were received on site in June and construction of the plant is progressing rapidly. Fabrication of the plant’s largest components – two ball mills each measuring 9.75m (32 feet) long and 6.1m (20 feet) in diameter – has been completed at CITIC Heavy Industries’ factory in Luoyang, China, and shipping of the components is underway.

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%).

Kakula’s decline conveyor system that will transport ore from underground to surface now is operational. Final commissioning of the full system (including the fire suppression system and all safety components) is underway and is scheduled to be completed around mid-July. The conveyor system has the capacity to transport 2 000 tonnes of ore per hour from underground to surface.

The conveyor system substantially shortens the haulage distance for the mine’s truck fleet; significantly increasing productivity and lowering mining and maintenance costs.

Construction of the surface conveyor system has commenced, and the first steel has been delivered to site. The surface conveyor system will transport ore from the decline conveyor system to the main processing plant stockpile. Forecast completion date is scheduled for quarter one 2021.