Gécamines and Ivanhoe to develop high-grade Cu-Zn mine in DRC

Ivanhoe Mines has announced that Kipushi Holding, an Ivanhoe Mines wholly-owned subsidiary, and Gécamines have signed a new agreement to return the ultra-high-grade Kipushi copper-zinc-germanium-silver mine in DR Congo back to commercial production.

The company said that Kipushi will be the world’s highest-grade major zinc mine, with average grade of 36.4% zinc over the first five years of production.

According to the company’s statement, the new agreement sets out the commercial terms that will form the basis of a new Kipushi joint-venture agreement establishing a robust framework for the mutually beneficial operation of the Kipushi mine for years to come, and is subject to execution of definitive documentation.

The Kipushi copper-zinc-germanium-silver mine in the DRC Copperbelt is adjacent to the town of Kipushi and approximately 30 kilometres southwest of Lubumbashi. It is located less than one kilometre from the Zambian border.

The company said that Kipushi 2022 feasibility study highlights “outstanding” economic results from planned rebirth of the historic Kipushi mine, with two-year development timeline.

The project’s life-of-mine average annual zinc production is 240,000 tonnes with C1 cash costs of US$0.65/lb of payable zinc.

After-tax NPV8% is US$941 million and IRR is 41%, based on long-term zinc price of US$1.20/lb, with pre-production capital cost of US$382 million. After-tax NPV8% is US$2.3 billion and IRR is 73% at current spot zinc price of approximately US$1.67/lb.

The company added that Kipushi will be fully powered by clean hydroelectricity, aligning with Ivanhoe’s vision to produce “green metals”.

Over a span of 69 years, Kipushi produced a total of 6.6 million tonnes of zinc and 4.0 million tonnes of copper from 60 million tonnes of ore grading 11% zinc and approximately 7% copper. It also produced 278 tonnes of germanium and 12,673 tonnes of lead between 1956 and 1978.

The redevelopment of Kipushi is based on a two-year construction timeline, which utilizes the significant existing surface and underground infrastructure to allow for substantially lower capital costs than comparable development projects. The estimated pre-production capital cost, including contingency, is US$382 million.

The 2022 FS envisages the recommencement of underground mining operations, and the construction of a new concentrator facility on surface with annual processing capacity of 800,000 tonnes of ore, producing on average 240,000 tonnes of zinc contained in concentrate.

Ivanhoe Mines is a Canadian mining company focused on advancing its three principal projects in Southern Africa: the development of major new, mechanized, underground mines at the Kamoa-Kakula copper discoveries in the Democratic Republic of Congo and at the Platreef palladium-rhodium-platinum-nickel-copper-gold discovery in South Africa; and the extensive redevelopment and upgrading of the historic Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine, also in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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