Kamoa-Kakula Shatters Previous Production Records

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - Ivanhoe Mines reported that underground ore production at the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mined and stockpiled a record 400,000 tonnes of ore grading 5.36% copper from the Kakula and Kansoko mines in March. This tonnage was 18% higher than the 339,000 tonnes mined and stockpiled in February.

The 400,000 tonnes mined in March comprised 364,100 tonnes grading 5.52% copper from the Kakula Mine, including 100,000 tonnes grading 8.70% copper from the mine's high-grade centre, and 36,000 tonnes grading 3.78% copper from the Kansoko Mine.

The project's pre-production surface stockpiles now contain approximately 2.56 million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore at an estimated blended average of 4.60% copper. Contained copper in the stockpiles increased by approximately 21,500 tonnes in March - to a cumulative total of more than 117,000 tonnes (the current copper price is approximately US$9,100 a tonne).

Kamoa-Kakula is on track to substantially exceed the 3.0 million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade stockpiled ore, holding more than 125,000 tonnes of contained copper, that the 2020 pre-feasibility study projected would be stockpiled prior to the planned start of processing in July 2021.

Underground mine development continues well ahead of schedule: Kamoa-Kakula also set a fresh monthly mine development record in March, with an advancement of more than 3,100 metres, bringing total underground development to approximately 38.6 kilometers - around 13.5 kilometers ahead of schedule. Drift-and-fill stoping operations are progressing well at the Kakula Mine, with approximately 70% of the ore production coming from stoping operations and the remainder coming from mine development activities. Drift-and-fill stoping is a highly-productive mining method of extracting underground ore, where a single tunnel, known as a stope, is extracted leaving an open void that is subsequently backfilled to allow for the extraction of the neighboring stope in sequence.

Mark Farren, Kamoa Copper's CEO, said, "The outstanding mining rate in March was driven by improved crew efficiencies and a higher percentage of ore coming from drift-and-fill stoping operations. We are comfortable with the mining performance as we move into final commissioning of the Phase 1, 3.8-Mtpa concentrator plant. If we consistently mine at around 400,000 tonnes per month, we will continue to add to the surface stockpiles ahead of our Phase 2, 7.6 Mtpa concentrator plant commissioning, which is expected in Q3 2022.

"We will continue to monitor the mining rate to ensure there is a balance between the number of new mining crews we add to our underground operations and the surface ore stockpiles ahead of Phase 2 commissioning. The large surface ore stockpiles will give us considerable flexibility during the ramp up of Phase 2 production."

Overall progress of Kamoa-Kakula's first phase, 3.8-Mtpa mining and milling operation (covering mine infrastructure, concentrator plant and surface infrastructure) now is approximately 90% complete (as of end of March), compared to 86% at the end of February. Overall construction of the project's first phase, 3.8-Mtpa concentrator plant and associated facilities is advancing rapidly and is approximately 92% complete (as of end of March), up from 85% complete at the end of February. The concentrator plant remains on track to be mechanically complete in Q2 2021, with first copper concentrate production scheduled for July 2021.

Delivery of equipment for the first concentrator plant effectively is complete with 2,426 truckloads of equipment and material having been delivered to site. The last shipments of transformers for emergency power and some components for the sand filter plant are scheduled to arrive this month; neither will delay commissioning. Structural steel erection, platework installation and piping and valve installation for the first concentrator plant is effectively complete, with only minor small bore piping still outstanding.

Electrical, controls and instrumentation installation is the last activity before construction completion and subsequent commissioning. Cable installation and cable termination is nearing completion with the focus now on instrument cabling and terminations. Two plant electrical substations have been energized on temporary power (milling and flotation) to allow for early C2 (second-stage) commissioning, which involves energizing motor control centers and checking drives and electrical signals. Energizing of the main concentrator plant substation on permanent medium-voltage power is scheduled for early this month.

Punch listing and C1 (first-stage) commissioning sign off is well underway with approximately half of the 1,070 C1 certificates signed off and handed over from construction to commissioning. C2 commissioning has started in the milling and flotation areas using temporary power from the two substations. Hong Wang, Mechanical Fitter, checking the alignment of pinion and girth gears of the primary ball mill during commissioning of the Phase 1 concentrator plant.

Electrical installation at the backfill plant is ongoing and construction completion is expected at roughly the same time as the concentrator plant. The backfill plant is scheduled to be complete well before paste backfill is required for mining operations. The backfill plant will be used to mix tailings from the processing plant with cement to produce paste backfill. The backfill will be pumped back into the mine and used to help support mined-out areas. Approximately one half of the mine's tailings will be sent back underground, significantly reducing the surface tailings storage. Construction of the tailings storage facility is progressing well and is scheduled to be completed on time to receive tailings from the processing plant.

Kakula's Phase 1, 3.8-Mtpa flotation cells, tailings and concentrate thickeners, and concentrate storage building at night. Foundations for the Phase 2 flotation cells are on the left.

Earthworks and civil works progressing well for the second 3.8-Mtpa concentrator plant, with the first delivery of long-lead items now on site. Construction of the second 3.8-Mtpa concentrator plant (Phase 2) is progressing well with the current focus on earthworks and civil works. Both earthworks and civil works are tracking slightly ahead of schedule. With orders for all the long-lead items of equipment for the Phase 2 concentrator placed in September 2020, procurement activities have focused on the remainder of the plant equipment. Structural steel fabrication is underway with the first batch complete and due to arrive on site in June. Contract negotiations for the steel, mechanical, piping and plate erection are expected to conclude shortly.