Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula project commences copper production in ‘historic moment’

Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines has begun producing copper concentrate at its Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which it believes will eventually become the world’s second largest copper mine.

Ivanhoe and its partner Zijin Mining said first ore from the Kakula mine was introduced into the concentrator plant on May 20 to perform hot commissioning tests. By May 26, 5-6% copper ore was being conveyed directly from the underground mining operations to the run-of-mine stockpile and concentrator.

Kakula – the first mine planned at the sprawling concession – is forecast to generate 3.8 million tonnes of ore a year at an average feed grade in excess of 6% copper over the first five years of operation.

Operations are set to ramp up later this year to reach 80-95,000 tonnes of copper concentrate. After several phases of expansion, the mine’s peak copper production will be over 800,000 tonnes per year with concentrate grading around 57% copper.

This mammoth output would make it the second largest copper mine in the world behind Escondida in Chile, as well as being the highest grade copper mine among major operations around the world.

Ivanhoe’s co-chairperson Robert Friedland described first production from Kamoa-Kakula as a ‘historic moment’ for Ivanhoe and the DRC.

“Discovering and delivering a copper province of this scale, grade and outstanding ESG credentials, ahead of schedule and on budget, is a unicorn in the copper mining business,” he said.

Ivanhoe has vowed to produce the industry’s ‘greenest’ copper, as it works to become the first net-zero operational carbon emitter among the world’s top-tier copper producers.