Debottlenecking of Kamoa-Kakula’s concentrators ahead of schedule

HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA — Ivanhoe Mines has announced at the 32nd BMO Global Metals & Mining Conference that the debottlenecking of the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex’s Phase 1 and 2 concentrators has been completed ahead of schedule.

The ongoing final installation and commissioning of a fourth Larox filter press is the final step in the overall debottlenecking program, which is expected to be completed in March 2023.

CEO Mr. Friedland commented: “The operations team at Kamoa-Kakula continues to exceed expectations … once again delivering an important expansion project ahead of schedule and on budget. We intend to reach a sustainable, annualized production rate of 450,000 tonnes of copper during the second quarter, which is an exceptional achievement considering we declared Phase 1 production at Kamoa-Kakula, alongside our joint venture partners, Zijin Mining, less than two years ago.”

“Our dedicated team of engineers are determined to continue this record of operational excellence as we execute the Phase 3 expansion. The project will include the integration of Africa’s largest direct-to-blister smelter complex and will drive annualized production to over 600,000 tonnes of copper by early 2025 … continuing Kamoa-Kakula’s distinction as the fastest-growing, highest-grade copper complex on our planet.”

The debottlenecking program of Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrators is designed to increase the nameplate ore processing capacity by 22% from 7.6 to 9.2 million tonnes of ore per annum, increasing production capacity up to approximately 450,000 tonnes per annum of copper in concentrate. For comparison, Kamoa-Kakula produced 333,497 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2022.

Two scheduled plant shutdowns, to tie in the new debottlenecking equipment, are now complete. The shutdown of the Phase 1 concentrator took place in January 2023, and the shutdown of the Phase 2 concentrator plant was completed on February 22, 2023. The new equipment consists of new hydrocyclone systems, new scavenger-cleaner flotation cells, a new concentrate thickener, as well as upsized piping and pumping capacity.

The last outstanding action is the installation and commissioning of the fourth Larox filter press, which sits at the end of the processing circuit. The filter press has been lowered into position in the concentrate storage and dispatch warehouse, and its installation and commissioning are anticipated to be complete in March.

The Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrators are expected to be able to sustain the new nameplate capacity of 9.2 million tonnes of ore per annum prior to the fourth Larox filter press commissioning. The total capital cost for the debottlenecking program was approximately US$50 million.

The Phase 1 concentrator has been operating at its new, sustained nameplate capacity of 580 dry tonnes per hour since January 25, 2023; and at times delivering as high as 590 dry tonnes per hour.

On February 25, 2023, within 12 hours of restarting, the Phase 2 concentrator has also ramped up to its new, sustained nameplate capacity of 580 dry tonnes per hour, or 9.2 million tonnes per annum.  

The final installation of the Phase 2 concentrator’s scavenger-cleaner flotation cell was completed on February 22. The commissioning of the scavenger-cleaner flotation cell on the Phase 1 concentrator complete was completed in January.  

Ivanhoe Mines is a Canadian mining company focused on advancing its three principal projects in Southern Africa; the expansion of the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the DRC, the construction of the tier-one Platreef palladium-rhodium-platinum-nickel-copper-gold project in South Africa; and the restart of the historic ultra-high-grade Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine, also in the DRC.

Ivanhoe Mines also is exploring for new copper discoveries across its circa 2,400km2 of 90-100% owned exploration licences in the Western Foreland, which are located adjacent to, or in close proximity to, the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex in the DRC.

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