Ivanhoe Mines Executive Chairman Robert Friedland and Chief Executive Officer Lars-Eric Johansson today announced the start of construction on the box cut for the initial portal to planned decline ramps that will provide underground access to the proposed Kamoa copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Katanga province.
A contract for construction of the box cut was awarded to Lubumbashi-based Mining Company Katanga Sprl (MCK), which has extensive local experience in contract mining and earthworks and has worked on other significant Katanga copper mining projects, including Kinsevere, Kipoi and Kolwezi.
Construction of the box cut is expected take approximately five months, after which development of the first set of twin declines can commence. The declines have been designed to intersect the high-grade copper mineralization in Kansoko Sud area, approximately 150 metres below surface. Ivanhoe's drilling program in this area has defined a thick, near-surface zone of high-grade copper mineralization in Kansoko Sud, where a recent drill hole, for which assays were received in April 2014, intercepted 15.7 metres (true width) of 7.04% copper, at a 1.5% total copper cut-off.
"This first development step is an important milestone in Ivanhoe's schedule to begin realizing the tremendous potential of Kamoa's high-grade resource to deliver meaningful benefits to all of our stakeholders," said Mr. Friedland.
"Industry experts recognize that Kamoa is a world-class copper deposit, both in terms of size and grade. In our mine planning, Kamoa's tabular form and relatively undeformed geometry, allows utilization of simple and low-cost mining methods; no complex metallurgical processes are required and the inherent scalability of the deposit means that it can provide significant returns over a range of production scenarios."
Kamoa is the world's largest high-grade (>2.5% Cu) copper resource. As such, Ivanhoe's initial, independent preliminary economic assessment (PEA) was based on an initial mining rate of three million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), which could be scaled up in phases to a steady state rate of up to 15 Mtpa.
Mr. Johansson said it is important for Ivanhoe to strike the correct balance between capital efficiency and operational risk.
"This principle will be adopted during the project's first phase, which is being scoped to target several high-grade areas in Kansoko Sud in the initial build up. The approach is to target early cash-generation opportunities, while allowing organizational learning and operational refinements to be incorporated into the subsequent expansion phases," Mr. Johansson added.
To view Figures 1 and 2, visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/IVN_figures1and2.pdf
Underground mining to use mechanized room-and-pillar and drift-and-fill methods
Given the favourable geological characteristics of the Kamoa Deposit as derived from the December 2012 mineral resource - including its relatively undeformed, continuous mineralization - it is considered amenable to large-scale, mechanized, room-and-pillar and drift-and-fill mining. The overall dip and geometry of the resource make it conducive to room-and-pillar mining in the shallow portions of the deposit, which will transition to drift-and-fill mining in the deeper or steeper sections. These methods are the accepted industry standards for mining deposits such as Kamoa.
Infill drilling of the planned initial mining area from the PEA has confirmed the overall grade and thickness of the December 2012 resource estimate in these areas and provided invaluable refinement within localized areas. While traditionally modelled on a 1% total copper cut-off to define a selective mineralized zone (SMZ), the deposit has shown that grade continuity also exists at an elevated 1.5% total copper vertical cut-off, and that a 2.0% total copper vertical cut-off may be feasible in certain areas. Applying higher cut-offs in defining the SMZ will allow for implementation of higher-grade, narrower mining options which should improve overall mine economics. Defining the SMZ at higher vertical cut-offs also has created more expansive, contiguous zones of high-grade mineralization.
Progress on pre-feasibility study, with initial development planned at Kansoko Sud
In line with the phased approach to project development outlined in the 2013 updated Kamoa PEA, the Kamoa pre-feasibility study (PFS) is progressing on the basis of an initial three-million-tonne-per-annum (3 Mtpa) mine and concentrator. Development plans will be refined following completion of the PFS.
Reviews of the resource model, combined with results from recent infill drilling at Kansoko Sud, have confirmed grade continuity, which allows the resource model to be constrained at a higher cut-off grade. The focus in planning the early years of mine production continues to be on the near-surface and high-grade material from Kansoko Sud to maximize margins. The 3 Mtpa mine and concentrator can be split into modules to potentially better match the underground ramp-up and further reduce the pre-production development capital. This will be examined in more detail as part of the pre-feasibility study to provide flexibility to the development of the Kamoa Project.
The scientific and technical information in this release has been reviewed and approved by Stephen Torr, P.Geo., Ivanhoe Mines' Vice President, Project Geology and Evaluation, a Qualified Person under the terms of National Instrument 43-101. Mr. Torr has verified the technical data disclosed in this news release.
About Ivanhoe Mines
Ivanhoe Mines, with offices in Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa, is advancing and developing its three principal projects:
- The Kamoa copper discovery in a previously unknown extension of the Central African Copperbelt in the DRC's Province of Katanga.
- The Flatreef discovery of platinum, palladium, nickel, copper, gold and rhodium on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa.
- The historic, high-grade Kipushi zinc, copper and germanium mine, also on the Copperbelt in the DRC.
Ivanhoe Mines also is evaluating other opportunities as part of its objective to become a broadly based, international mining company.