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Kamoa-Kakula mine to start copper production within a month

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(Kitco News) - Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) (OTCQX: IVPAF) announced today that the target date for commissioning of ore milling and first copper concentrate production at the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the DRC has been advanced to the end May or early June - several months ahead of schedule.

The company said that overall construction of the project's first phase 3.8-Mtpa concentrator plant is essentially complete, with the majority of the C1 (construction complete) certificates signed off. The plant is energized with permanent power and C2 commissioning, which involves electrical, control and instrumentation checks, is well advanced. Water is being circulated in certain areas of the plant, marking the beginning of C3 commissioning.

C3 commissioning involves checking for leaks, certain instrument calibration, control loop checks, and is the precursor to C4 commissioning (hot commissioning), which involves processing ore through the plant to produce a copper concentrate.

Overall, Ivanhoe added, plant commissioning is running well ahead of schedule, with the first ore expected to be added to the mill by the end of May 2021. Lower-grade ore will be fed into the plant during the C4 commissioning phase, to ensure plant performance and copper recovery are satisfactory before increasing the head grade.

Kakula is projected to be the world's highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mtpa at an estimated early average feed grade of more than 6.0% copper, ramping up to 7.6 Mtpa in Q3 2022.

Phase 1 is expected to produce approximately 200,000 tonnes of copper per year, and Phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce approximately 400,000 tonnes of copper per year.

The company noted that based on independent benchmarking, the project's phased expansion scenario to 19 Mtpa would position Kamoa-Kakula as the world's second-largest copper mining complex, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 tonnes.

The Kamoa-Kakula copper project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).

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