Nzuri Copper has declared its maiden ore reserve estimate for its Kalongwe copper-cobalt project in the Kolwezi region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after completing a feasibility study (FS) for the proposed Stage 1 development.

Based on the FS, it was determined that the project has a maiden Ore Reserve estimate of 6.98Mt at 3.03% Cu and 0.36% cobalt for 211,494t of contained copper and 25,128t of contained cobalt.

According to the company, the FS confirms the technical and financial viability of an open-pit mining operation.

The study takes into account an on-site 1Mtpa dense media separation (DMS) processing plant to produce two dry saleable concentrate products.

Nzuri Copper CEO and executive director Mark Arnesen said: “The results of this high-quality feasibility study show that Kalongwe is an outstanding project, characterised by high copper and cobalt grades, low capital and operating costs and strong financial returns.

“The FS highlights the significant upside that can be unlocked through future project expansions.”

“The relative simplicity of the Stage 1 project and anticipated 12-month timeline to production, once funding and board approvals are secured make this a very attractive foundation project for Nzuri.

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“In addition, the FS highlights the significant upside that can be unlocked through future project expansions, including the potential for leaching of cobalt-only ore and mineralised rejects, potential off-take to some of the closer new SX-EW plants now under construction in the region and the significant exploration upside both in the immediate Kalongwe Licence and regionally within our Fold Thrust Belt joint venture (FTBJV) as highlighted by the major Ivanhoe Kamoa/Kakula discoveries next door to us and the growing momentum of our own exploration program within the FTBJV.”

With a mine-life of seven years, the project has a pre-tax net present value (NPV) of $116m and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 71%.

The company is pursuing multiple opportunities to a enhance mine-life and production from Kalongwe beyond the Stage 1 project.

Furthermore, in order to secure a funding package, the company is evaluating options that include potential off-take and strategic partners and conventional debt funding.