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Via Metal Miner
Canadian copper mining giant Ivanhoe Mines recently announced new “maiden” mineral resources for high-grade Makoko and Kiala deposits in its project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The company said that Makoko contains indicated mineral resources of 16 million tons (MT) at 3.55% copper. They also reported inferred mineral resources of 154 million tons at 1.97% copper using a 1.5% copper cut-off.Kiala, on the other hand, contains an indicated mineral resource of 5 MT at 3.56% copper using a 1.5% copper cut-off.
Invanhoe says Makoko is the world’s third-largest and highest-grade copper discovery since Kakula in 2016. Both Makoko and Kiala lie near the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex, which is within the Western Foreland Exploration Project. Licenses for the latter are 80 to 100% owned by Ivanhoe Mines. It was only recently that a locally registered company, Makoko S.A., received 25-year mining licenses where most of the Makoko and Kiala deposits occur.
Shares for the copper mining company, which is one of the biggest producers in the world, went up immediately after the announcement of the new finds.
According to a statement put out by Ivanhoe Founder and Executive Co-Chairman Robert Friedland, the new find was a culmination of over twenty years of effort. The DRC exploration started off as a Greenfield project, but soon turned out to be a major copper mining success story for Ivanhoe. Indeed, reports indicate that the deposits not only contain high levels of copper, but also spectacular grades.
While the Kamoa discovery happened in 2008, the Kakula discovery occurred in 2016. In just over five years, Kakula went from drill core samples to one of the five largest copper mines in the world, with by far the highest grade ores. According to Friedland, this was all thanks to the hard work of the project and operations teams.
The Executive Co-chairman added that the new resource estimates for Makoko and Kiala were just scratching the surface of the the immense copper mineral potential of the entire Western Foreland basin. The exploration team, he said, was officially responsible for the largest copper discovery of the last ten years, the ultra-high-grade giant Kakula discovery, the giant Kamoa discovery, and now the fourth-largest discovery in Makoko.
Ivanhoe now plans to explore the possibility of heap leaching the near-surface mineralized zone of Makoko. Doing so would not only be more cost-effective, but also a very low carbon-intensive way of producing copper cathode. So far, the mining company has discovered 38.7 MT of contained copper in measured and indicated resources as well as 9.4 MT in inferred resources across the Western Foreland shelf, including Kamoa and Kakula.
Recently, a DRC truckers strike stemming from a third-party labor dispute also put Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. in the news. According to the company, the Kamoa-Kakula Copper mine complex operations remained unaffected. Indeed, reports indicate that major shipments from this mine continued to take place without any glitches.
In response to reports that truck drivers were not transporting the metals, the company management said that it was proactively coordinating with the DRC Government to tackle any fallout from this strike on outbound shipping. That said, they claimed they weren’t anticipating the strike to have any impact on the Kamoa-Kakula’s future operations.
Ivanhoe Mines is involved in three key projects in this region: expanding the Kamoa-Kakula copper complex, building the tier-one Platreef palladium-nickel-platinum-rhodium-copper-gold project in South Africa, and reopening the historically high-grade Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine in the DRC. It is also said to be exploring for more copper in the Western Foreland property, which extends over 2,400 square kilometers.
By Sohrab Darabshaw
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