Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines has announced that a pre-feasibility study for phase one of its Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is currently underway and expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The planned six-million-tonne-per-annum (Mtpa) mine at Kakula is estimated to cost $1.2bn.
Ivanhoe plans to fund subsequent expansions and a smelter from cash flows or project finance.
The company and its joint venture partner Zijin Mining are currently exploring options to accelerate construction of the first two mines at Kamoa-Kakula, and the potential to expand production to 18 Mtpa.
During the second quarter of this year, a total of 18,633m of drilling was completed at Kakula and surrounding areas within the Kamoa-Kakula mining licence, thereby increasing the total drilling completed during the first six months to 36,926m.
As part of the exploration programme, which was revised during the second quarter, additional drilling now has been planned to the north of Kakula West, following a narrow but high-grade continuation of Kakula West mineralisation.
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During this period, the company completed 6,857m of drilling in 16 holes at the high-grade Makoko area.
In January this year, Ivanhoe announced that ongoing upgrading work at the Mwadingusha hydropower plant in the DRC has increased power output to 32 megawatts (MW).
Mwadingusha is the first of three existing, state-owned hydroelectric plants that will be modernised by Ivanhoe and Zijin Mining to supply power to Kamoa-Kakula.
Kamoa-Kakula has been conducting project development activities with clean, hydroelectric power drawn from the national grid since late 2016.