Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula concentrator beating design throughput target

The Kamoa-Kakula first phase mill had a record setting September. Credit: Ivanhoe Mines.

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN; OTC: IVPAF) says that after the first phase of concentrator construction, the facility is exceeding designed throughput rates, treating 320,000 tonnes of ore in the month ending Sept. 20. Design capacity is 315,000 tonnes per month with a head grade of 6% copper.

Copper production for the month was a record 16,010 tonnes.

The company says the phase one concentrator, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will treat 3.8 million tonnes of ore annually. The mill treated 384.000 tonnes of ore grading 5.6% copper in September, including 141,000 grading 7.32% copper from the centre of the Kakula mine. Surface stockpiles have reached 3.66 million tonnes grading 4.73% copper.

The average floated concentrate grade was 55.7% copper, up from 48% in August. A total of 46,764 tonnes of copper has been produced in the first nine months of 2021.

The daily floated copper recovery rate was 85.1% during the month, up from 83% in August. A daily record copper recovery rate of 88.3% was achieved on Sept 12, and a daily floated copper production record of 721 tonnes was sets on Sept. 15. A daily record high milling rate of 12,596 tonnes (the nameplate capacity is 10,500 t/d) and a daily crushing record of 14,778 tonnes were achieved on Sept. 27.

Looking ahead, Ivanhoe expects even better results.

“There are a number of additional adjustments being incorporated into the phase one processing circuit, which will enable the concentrator to achieve better results in the next quarter. These adjustments, which also will be incorporated into the phase two processing circuit, should position us to achieve 2021 copper production in the upper end of our previous guidance of 80,000 to 95,000 tonnes. This gives us the confidence to raise the range to 85,000 to 95,000 tonnes,” said Kamoa Copper CEO Mark Farren.

More mill capacity

The commissioning of an additional concentrate filter is being fast tracked in the mill. This will take advantage of copper feed grades and milling rates in excess of design. The extra filter is to be fully operational in early October. The concentrator is then expected to produce more than the design capacity of 200,000 tonnes of copper annually during  phase one operation.

Phase two construction is over 50% complete, and the immediate focus is on structural steel, mechanical, piping and platework erection and installation. The second plant will have an annual capacity of 3.8 million tonnes, matching the phase one plant.

A study is also underway for the third phase of concentrator construction. The work will address mining production capacity and costs, including expanded facilities at the Kansoko, Kamoa North, Bonanza zone, and Kakula West deposits. The optimal sizing of the phase three mill will also be decided.

Watch a new video showcasing the ramp-up of copper production at Kamoa-Kakula and the production of blister copper at the local Lualaba copper smelter at https://vimeo.com/618907781/0e2fd0ca11.

The Kamoa-Kakula copper project is a joint venture of operator and 39.6% owner Ivanhoe Mines and partners Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global (0.8%), and the Democratic Republic of Congo government (20%).

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