JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines is confident that the Kamoa-Kakula deposit, ranked the fifth-largest copper deposit in the world, will take one of the top three rankings on the back of the “unprecedented rate of growth” of the high-grade copper resource in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Ivanhoe on Monday announced assay results from another 43 holes as part of the ongoing 2017 drilling campaign at the Kamoa-Kakula copper project.
“The remarkable consistency of the ultra-high-grade copper mineralisation at the Kakula discovery is unlike anything geologists have ever seen in the DRC’s copperbelt. The discovery remains open in virtually all directions, so the real question is, how much bigger and better is Kakula going to get?” Ivanhoe executive chairperson Robert Friedland said.
His comments followed the confirmation of Kakula West as a significant new copper discovery and a potential new high-grade mining area, boasting characteristics and grades similar to the high-grade Kakula mineral resource area located to the east.
“In light of the successful drilling at Kakula West, the development plans will be reassessed and amended as the project moves forward,” CEO Lars-Eric Johansson added.
“Ultimately, we see the potential for an additional mining centre at Kakula West, which could increase the ultimate mining rate at Kamoa-Kakula to at least 18-million tonnes a year, through a number of phased expansions.”
The preliminary economic assessment (PEA) that is under way to examine expanded production scenarios at Kamoa-Kakula is progressing well, with the results expected to be released in the fourth quarter.
“The new PEA is considering a mine capacity of approximately six-million tonnes a year at Kakula and a similar-sized mine at Kansoko Sud, giving the revised PEA a projected peak mine production of about 12-million tonnes a year,” he said.
Concurrently, work on a six-million-tonne-a-year prefeasibility study (PFS) at Kakula is well under way and will be considered as the base case for the first phase of planned development at Kamoa-Kakula.
“The new drill results, together with results from holes pending, are expected to result in a major upgrade and expansion of the Kakula resource, with the updated resource estimate expected to be finalised before the end of this year [. . .] incorporating results from drill holes completed by the end of October,” Friedland commented.
An area of 2 km by 1 km already had been drilled off at Kakula West on a 300 m grid pattern, while the drilling in the “saddle” area between Kakula West and Kakula is rapidly being in-filled in preparation for an updated resource estimate for the Kakula discovery expected by the end of this year.
At Kakula West, 17 500 m of drilling in 31 holes has been completed since the May 2017 resource update, with assays for 20 holes received.
In addition, 26 700 m in 44 holes have been completed in the Kakula resource area, of which assays for 23 holes now have been received.
“In response to the unprecedented exploration success at Kakula, Ivanhoe Mines and Zijin Mining are continuing with the accelerated exploration programme,” Friedland noted.
Fourteen rigs are drilling on the Kamoa-Kakula project area, with 11 in the Kakula discovery area; one in the Kamoa Nord target area; one drilling to the south of Kakula exploring the Mulamena target; and one conducting sterilisation drilling in areas planned for mine infrastructure development.
Of the 11 rigs drilling at the Kakula discovery, five are conducting exploration and in-fill drilling at Kakula West; three are drilling in the saddle area between the Kakula resource area and Kakula West; two are conducting in-fill drilling in the Kakula resource area; and one is continuing to test the southeastern extension of the Kakula mineralised trend.