Ivanhoe Mines has restarted production at the Kipushi zinc-copper-lead-germanium mine in Haut-Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 31 years after it was put on care and maintenance.

The project is owned by Kipushi Corporation (KICO), a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (68%) and state-owned mining company Gécamines (32%).

This mine initially started production from a surface open pit in 1924. It was put on care and maintenance in 1993 due to economic and political factors.

The new 800,000tpa Kipushi concentrator began dry commissioning in early May and the production of the first concentrate started in June.

Known for its high-grade zinc concentrate, the Kipushi mine has secured offtake agreements with CITIC Metal and Trafigura Asia Trading.

Financing for the project, amounting to $170m, has been sourced from CITIC Metal, Trafigura and First Bank DRC of Kinshasa, with $50m already utilised.

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According to the 2022 Kipushi feasibility study, the mine is expected to produce an average of 278,000tpa of zinc concentrate over the next five years.

It is expected to reach steady-state production in Q3 2024.

Ivanhoe Mines founder and executive co-chairman Robert Friedland said: “Returning the historic Kipushi zinc-copper-lead-germanium-gallium mine to production alongside our DRC state-owned joint-venture partner Gécamines marks a century after Kipushi’s first operations.

“Kipushi will be one of the world’s leading producers of high-grade, low-emissions zinc and associated metals. Kipushi joins Kamoa-Kakula as a major addition to Ivanhoe’s rapidly growing green metals business.”