Kakula concentrator to produce first copper concentrate within weeks

Overall progress of Kamoa-Kakula’s first phase, 3.8-Mtpa mining and milling operation (covering mine infrastructure, concentrator plant and surface infrastructure) now is approximately 94% complete (as of end of April), compared to 90% at the end of March.

Overall construction of the project’s first phase, 3.8-Mtpa concentrator plant and associated facilities is advancing rapidly and is approximately 98% complete (as of end of April), up from 92% complete at the end of March. The concentrator plant is essentially mechanically complete, with first copper concentrate production scheduled for later this month or early June. Lower-grade ore will be fed into the plant during the final commissioning phase, to ensure plant performance and copper recovery are satisfactory before increasing the head grade.

Structural steel erection, platework installation and piping and valve installation for the first concentrator plant are effectively complete, as is electrical, controls and instrumentation installation.

The main mine 220-kilovolt (kV) Kamoa Consumer Substation (KCS) has been energized on grid power, as has the 33kV KCS substation. In addition, the main plant 33kV substation and all the plant medium-voltage and low-voltage substations have been energized, and the concentrator plant is fully energized.

Construction complete (C1) sign off is nearing completion with approximately 75% of the certificates signed off and handed over from construction to commissioning. C2 (pre commissioning) commissioning is well underway with some areas (crushing and screening, milling) more than 90% complete. Early C3 activities (checking for leaks, certain instrument calibration, control-loop checks) have started with water being circulated through certain areas in the plant.

Electrical installation at the backfill plant is ongoing and the backfill plant is scheduled to be completed in July 2021, well before paste backfill is required for mining operations.

The backfill plant will be used to mix tailings from the processing plant with cement to produce paste backfill. The backfill will be pumped back into the mine and used to help support mined-out areas. Approximately one-half of the mine’s tailings will be sent back underground, significantly reducing the surface tailings storage. Construction of the tailings storage facility is progressing well and is scheduled to be completed on time to receive tailings from the processing plant.

Construction and commissioning of the surface bulk reclaim tip, bypass conveyor system and run-of-mine stockpile feed conveyor now is complete. The bulk reclaim tip system will be used to feed ore from Kakula’s surface stockpiles to the processing circuit, as well as ore from the Kansoko Mine when second phase operations begin.

Copper production guidance for 2021

The Kamoa-Kakula concentrator plant is essentially mechanically complete and first copper concentrate production is scheduled for later this month or early June 2021. Assuming first production starts at that time, Ivanhoe’s guidance for contained copper in concentrate expected to be produced by the Kamoa-Kakula Project for the balance of 2021 assumes a ramp-up from first production in line with published technical disclosures. The 2021 Guidance is 80,000 to 95,000 tonnes of Contained Copper in Concentrate.                                                           

Guidance involves estimates of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results to be materially different.

Construction of the second 3.8-Mtpa concentrator plant is progressing well toward a Q3 2022 start-up, with the current focus on earthworks and civil works. Both earthworks and civil works are tracking slightly ahead of schedule. With orders for all the long-lead items of equipment for the Phase 2 concentrator placed in September 2020, procurement activities have focused on the remainder of the plant equipment. Structural steel fabrication is underway with the first batch complete and due to arrive on site in June 2021.

Given the current copper price environment, Ivanhoe and its partner Zijin are exploring the acceleration of the Kamoa-Kakula Phase 3 concentrator expansion from 7.6 Mtpa to 11.4 Mtpa, which may be fed from expanded mining operations at Kansoko, or new mining areas at Kamoa North (including the Bonanza Zone) and Kakula West.

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