Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) said on Monday that progress at its Kakula copper project, the first of multiple planned mining areas at Kamoa-Kakula in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to progress ahead of schedule.
The company, together with its joint venture (JV) partner China’s Zijin Mining Group, has now completed more than 17 km of underground development, of which 5.1 km is ahead of schedule.
Ivanhoe also said that Kakula’s 2,000-tonne-per-hour ore conveyor system began operations in June, which will further increase the mine’s pace of underground development.
As work on extending the mine below the surface progresses over the next few months, the majority of the headings are expected to transition into the high-grade ore zones, Ivanhoe said.
The Vancouver-based miner noted that early implementation of covid-19 prevention measures has allowed the development of Kakula to continue uninterrupted. As a result, initial production expected in the third quarter of 2021.
In November, the Kamoa-Kakula team completed basic design and costing for Kakula’s initial mine and infrastructure, the first concentrator module and associated infrastructure.
The report pushed initial capital costs up to about $1.3 billion — an 18% increase over planned costs.
Billionaire Robert Friedland, who made his fortune from the Voisey’s Bay nickel project in Canada in the 1990s, has been working on Kamoa-Kakula for ten years.
The mining legend believes the project, being developed in partnership with China’s Zijin Mining Group, will become the world’s second-largest copper mine.
According to an independent pre-feasibility study (PFS) released last year, if all phases are completed the operation is expected to reach peak annual production of more than 700,000 tonnes of copper.
The updated resource estimate for the massive project, delivered in February, shows it holds 1.4 billion indicated tonnes grading 2.74% copper for 83.7 billion pounds of copper and another 339 million inferred tonnes grading 1.68% copper for 12.5 billion pounds of copper at a 1% cut-off grade.
Ivanhoe’s stock was up 3.6% on the TSX on Monday afternoon. The company has a C$4.9 billion market capitalization.
Over the last five months, the company completed 4,064 metres at three specific sites over a strike length of 25 km: Samapleu, Bounta and Yepleu. Drilling at the Bounta Zone confirmed the presence of mineralization at depth and warrant additional investigations. This new discovery confirms Bounta as the third mineralized prospect out of more than 20 potential zones within Sama’s tenement as outlined by the 2013 airborne electromagnetic survey.
At the Bounta Zone, located 15 km south of the Samapleu deposit, one borehole was drilled aiming at a strong 11,000 conductivity-thickness (CT) electromagnetic (EM) target located 600 metres from surface. The hole returned disseminated to semi-massive sulphide between 533 metres and 540 metres from surface, with a small section of semi-massive sulphides. Additional geophysical work and more drilling are needed now to explain the source for the strong EM target.
At the Samapleu Project, surface drilling returned excellent results in January which expanded the surface mineralization at the Extension 1 mineralized body by 200 metres toward the southwest. Subsequently, seven boreholes were surveyed using geophysical downhole probe. A strong EM target of 15,000 CT located 550 metres from surface has been outlined. This target remains to be drilled.
At the Yepleu prospect, located 25 km southwest of Samapleu, three holes were completed between April and June 15. Hole YE47-716197 tested a 3,000 CT EM anomaly located 350 metres from surface while hole YE47-361408 tested a 5,000 CT EM anomaly located 450 metres from surface. Both holes intersected the target zones and returned 6.0 metres and 15.0 metres of mineralization respectively ranging from disseminated to semi-massive sulphide mineralization. A third hole, YE45-348726, was drilled down to 924 metres to test a 15,000 CT target at 850 metres from surface. The hole remained within the intrusive complex with numerous sections of magmatic migmatite showing disseminated sulphide mineralization. As the hole did not explain the source of the very strong EM anomaly, the irregular shape of the target might be the cause. It is proposed to perform downhole EM probing to further investigate the exact location of the 15,000 CT target.
Several sample batches will be delivered to the assay laboratory in Canada when post-COVID-19 shipping becomes available.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirement for cash conservation measures to be implemented, it was necessary to temporarily suspend exploration activities at the project on the Ivory Coast by mid-June, 2020. High Power Exploration (HPX) is the entity responsible for financing the Ivory Coast project during the initial earn-in period as defined in a joint venture and earn-in agreement. The company will advise when activities on the ground are to resume.
Sama’s financial situation remains strong with a treasury of more than $2.5-million, 24 million shares of SRG Mining Inc. and the agreed HPX project spend.
“With assays pending on the new sulphide intersections at Bounta and Samapleu, along with a catalogue of new geophysical targets generated by HPX’s proprietary technology, we will resume work with even more meaningful and defined targets as soon as we are able. I’m excited to now have three core prospects within this new nickel, copper, palladium district with additional airborne EM targets yet to be explored,” stated Marc-Antoine Audet, President and CEO of Sama Resources.
On Oct. 23, 2017, Sama signed a binding term sheet to form a partnership with HPX TechCo Inc., a private mineral exploration company in which mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland is a significant stakeholder, in order to develop its Ivory Coast nickel-copper and cobalt project in Ivory Coast.