A revised resource estimate has improved the value of the DRC project, increasing its zinc resource by 16 percent and its copper resource by 40 percent.
An independently prepared resource estimate for Ivanhoe Mines’ (TSX:IVN) Kipushi zinc-copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo has increased the measured and indicated mineral resources for the historical mine.
In a release on Monday (July 30), the company said that the new estimate “has increased Kipushi’s measured and indicated zinc-rich resources by 16 percent, from 10.2 million tonnes to 11.8 million tonnes, with an increase in zinc grade from 34.89 percent to 35.34 percent.”
With the increase factored in, the mine now holds an estimated 9.2 billion pounds of zinc, or 4.17 million tonnes.
“The zinc grade of Kipushi’s measured and indicated mineral resources is more than twice as high as the world’s next-highest-grade zinc project,” boasts the company in its release.
The mine’s copper-rich resources are also up 40 percent from 1.6 million tonnes to 2.3 million tonnes with an increase in grade from 4.01 percent to 4.03 percent for 144 million pounds of copper contained in the mine, or over 65,000 tonnes.
According to the company, the new estimate incorporates the second phase of underground drilling that was completed in 2017 focusing on the Big Zinc and Southern Zinc zones of the mine.
Drilling also led to an upgrade in silver and germanium estimates.
“The updated mineral resource will be used in the preparation of the Kipushi definitive feasibility study, which is expected to be finalized later this year or early in 2019,” said the company.
Executive Chairman of Ivanhoe, Robert Friedland, said that the company was a big believer in the potential of the project.
“We have always believed that Kipushi held the potential to host significantly more high-grade zinc, copper, silver and germanium resources than were initially reported in the mineral inventory when we acquired our 68-percent interest in the mine in 2011,” he said.
“Kipushi operated for more than 60 years as a high-grade copper mine, with significant germanium production, before it was placed on care-and-maintenance in the 1990s. With continued exploration success, we are confident Kipushi could remain in production for at least several more decades.”
Friedland said that the new estimate was just the beginning.
“While our initial mine plan focuses on mining Kipushi’s exceptionally high-grade Big Zinc deposit, the adjacent Fault Splay and Southern Zinc zones are compelling, near-term development targets as they have thick, zinc-rich mineralization zones grading up to 45 percent zinc.”
Previous sole owner of the mine, DRC’s state-run Gécamines holds the remaining share of the mine in joint venture with Ivanhoe.
Ivanhoe Mines says the current mine redevelopment plan, based on a December 2017 prefeasibility study, has a construction period of less than two years, with a life-of-mine average annual production rate of 225,000 tonnes of zinc and cash costs of US$0.48 per pound zinc over an 11-year initial mine life.
The company has been powering ahead with the rehabilitation and reopening of the mine, announcing a major engineering accomplishment in May.
The Canadian miner’s African projects are set to benefit handsomely from a C$723 million deal with Chinese mega conglomerate CITIC (HKEX:0267), which is set to become the company’s largest shareholder.
In Toronto, Ivanhoe’s shares were up 5.35 percent as of 3:00 p.m. EST at C$2.56.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.