Ivanhoe Mines has installed a large-capacity rock crusher at the upgraded Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Sandvik jaw crusher, which has a maximum capacity of 1,085t an hour, was installed 1,150m below the surface as underground mine upgrade work nears completion at the mine.
The 54t machine was disassembled on surface and then the pieces were lowered down Kipushi’s Shaft 5, which is the mine’s main production shaft, and installed in the crusher chamber.
With the reassembly of the crusher in progress, Ivanhoe expects to start commissioning later this month.
Ivanhoe Mines executive chairman Robert Friedland said: “The installation of the massive new rock crusher at the bottom of Shaft 5 is a noteworthy engineering accomplishment.
“It marks the final, major underground infrastructure upgrading project needed to resume underground mining, crushing and hoisting operations at Kipushi.”
The company is currently holding discussions with various stakeholders including its partner Gécamines, the DRC’s national railway company Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo (SNCC), and potential project financiers to advance agreements for launching commercial production at Kipushi.
Friedland added: “In parallel with ongoing mine upgrading work and completion of the definitive feasibility study, we are evaluating a number of proposals we have received to fund the remaining infrastructure construction.”
Located on the Central African Copperbelt in the province of Haut-Katanga, Kipushi is owned by a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (68%) and Gécamines (32%).
The discovery of the Big Zinc deposit at a depth of around 1,250m below surface was made before operations were ceased at Kipushi in 1993.
Through drilling, Ivanhoe has upgraded and expanded the deposit’s measured and indicated mineral resources to an estimated 10.2 million tonnes grading 34.9% zinc.
Based on the current mine redevelopment plan, the project has a construction period of less than two years.
The mine is expected to have a life-of-mine average annual production rate of 225,000t of zinc over an initial mine life of 11 years.