Ivanhoe Mines has started copper concentrate production at the Kamoa-Kakula mining complex’s Phase 3 concentrator in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Phase 3 concentrator, which processes ore from the Kamoa 1 and 2 underground mines, is designed to handle 5mtpa.

This capacity surpasses the design capacities of the Phase 1 and 2 concentrators by 30%. The Phase 1 and 2 concentrators, located 10km from the Phase 3 site, produced 35,474t of copper in May 2024.

With the Phase 3 concentrator’s addition, the Kamoa-Kakula complex becomes the world’s third-largest copper mining operation, trailing only Escondida in Chile and Grasberg in Indonesia.

Ivanhoe Mines and Zijin Mining each hold a 39.6% stake in Kamoa Copper, with the DRC Government owning 20% and Crystal River Global holding 0.8%.

Following the full ramp-up of the Phase 3 concentrator, the company plans to initiate a debottlenecking programme to further enhance its processing capacity beyond 5mtpa.

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Furthermore, Kamoa Copper is nearing the completion of basic engineering for Project 95, an initiative aimed at boosting the metallurgical copper recovery rates of the Phase 1 and 2 concentrators from the current 87% to a targeted 95%.

Plans for a Phase 4 concentrator are also under way, which will be situated adjacent to the Phase 3 concentrator and is designed with the same processing capacity.

Additionally, Ivanhoe is advancing a 70,000m drilling programme on its majority-owned Western Foreland licence package, with ten drill rigs currently active on the Makoko and Kitoko prospects.