Ivanhoe Mines has announced a joint venture (JV) with state-owned mining company Gécamines to recommence activities at the historic Kipushi zinc/copper/silver mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The collaboration marks a significant step towards the mine’s operation, which is set to begin production in Q2 2024 after a hiatus of nearly a century.

Kipushi Mine first commenced operations in 1924 and was considered the world’s richest copper mine in that period.

On 14 February 2022, a term sheet for the JV was signed by Gécamines, Kipushi Holding and Kipushi Corporation (KICO).

According to the agreement, Kipushi Holding, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ivanhoe Mines, will transfer an additional 6% of KICO’s share capital and voting rights to Gécamines.

This transfer will increase Gécamines’ stake in Kipushi Holding from 32% to 38%.

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Furthermore, from 25 January 2027, Gécamines will receive an additional 5% of KICO’s share capital and voting rights, taking its ownership to 43%.

Kipushi Holding will maintain a 57% ownership in KICO, if a portion of KICO’s share capital is needed to be transferred to the DRC State or a third party as required by law or regulation.

In such an event, Gécamines would be responsible for transferring the necessary KICO shares.

During the 12-year exploitation period of the Big Zinc deposit, Gécamines will have the option to purchase and process the concentrate produced by KICO locally, fostering in-country value addition.