The Democratic Republic of Congo has achieved commercial production milestone at the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine.
Ivanhoe Mines said the 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum concentrator plant was deemed to have reached commercial production after achieving more than 80% of design capacity, with recoveries tracking close to 70% for a continuous, seven-day period.
The Africa-focused megaproject reported about 500,000 tonnes of ore had been milled to date, including about 263,000 tonnes grading 5.7% copper in July. Copper output has steadily increased since hot commissioning began at the end of May, exceeding 500 tonnes per day towards the end of July and nearing the Phase 1 steady-state design capacity of about 550 tonnes per day, or 200,000 tonnes per year.
Kamoa-Kakula copper project
Ivanhoe said copper recoveries increased from an average of about 70% in June to about 81% in July. During the last ten days of July, the concentrator averaged copper recoveries close to 82%, with operations reportedly progressively increasing toward the Phase 1 steady-state design parameters, including recoveries at about 86%.
Kamoa-Kaula mined 414,000 tonnes grading 5.16% copper in July, comprising 367,000 tonnes grading 5.29% copper from Kakula, including 85,000 tonnes grading 7.70% copper from the mine’s high-grade centre, and 47,000 tonnes grading 4.13% copper from the Kansoko mine. The company has guided for 2021 output of 80,000 to 95,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, on a 100% basis.
The Kamoa-Kakula copper project comprises 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%).
Kakula is one of the world’s highest-grade major new copper mines, and the most significant new mine to come into production since Escondida in Chile in November 1990. The forthcoming phased expansion of the project to 19 million tonnes per annum would solidify its position as the world’s second-largest copper mining complex, with peak annual copper output of more than 800,000 tonnes.