Ivanhoe DRC copper JV signs 10-year processing deal
Ivanhoe Mines has revealed its copper mining joint venture in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which started production last week, has signed a 10-year deal to process some of its copper concentrate at a nearby smelter.
Congolese authorities last week reiterated a long-standing ban on copper concentrate exports, and said only mining companies with waivers would be allowed to export concentrate, reports Reuters. The ban has been in place since 2013 to encourage domestic processing.
The Lualaba smelter, majority-owned by China Nonferrous Mining Corp (CNMC), will treat up to 150,000 wet metric tonnes of concentrate a year from the Kamoa-Kakula mine Ivanhoe is developing with Zijin Mining in return for a treatment charge and market-based realization fee.
The 400,000 tonnes per year capacity smelter, which is around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the mine by road, will produce blister copper ingots containing around 99% copper. The Ivanhoe-Zijin joint venture, Kamoa Copper, will then collect these from a storage area, Ivanhoe said in a statement.
The processing deal “will account for just under 40% of the total volumes of concentrates produced by Phase 1, making the most of available in-country smelter capacity,” said Kamoa Copper Chief Financial Officer Rochelle de Villiers, who is leading concentrate offtake and marketing negotiations. The first delivery was made on Tuesday, she added.
Mark Farren, Kamoa Copper’s CEO, remarked: “We are delighted with the progress we have made at the Phase 1 concentrator. As promised at the end of April, we have managed to move into full C4 concentrator commissioning ahead of plan, and we now are producing copper concentrate. The next challenge for the processing team is to ramp up the concentrator to nameplate capacity and reach our planned recovery targets.
“The mining team has continued to perform really well, with volumes consistently around the 400,000-tonne-per-month mark. This remains above the steady-state requirements of the Phase 1 concentrator. We will continue to monitor our mining performance against the ramp-up plan of the Phase 2 concentrator to ensure a smooth and efficient ramp up to steady-state production during 2022.”
Ivanhoe expects Kamoa-Kakula to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine. Production started ahead of schedule on May 26, and Ivanhoe expects output of 80,000 to 95,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate this year and peak annual output of over 800,000 tonnes after several phases of expansion.
China Nonferrous Mining Corp
In a separate statement, CNMC said the tolling agreement would allow both sides to realise synergies upstream and downstream, without elaborating. Kamoa Copper is also evaluating the construction of a smelting complex which would produce blister and anode copper as well as sulphuric acid as a by-product.
People Moves: Peter Cunningham appointed Rio Tinto CFO
Rio Tinto has appointed Peter Cunningham as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with immediate effect. Peter, who has been Interim Chief Financial Officer since 1 January 2021, will also join the Rio Tinto Board as an executive director at the same time.
Peter Cunningham appointed Rio Tinto CFO
Peter Cunningham was previously Group Controller and has held a number of senior financial and non-financial leadership positions across Rio Tinto in Australia and the UK. In a career spanning 28 years with Rio Tinto, he has held roles including Global Head of Health, Safety, Environment & Communities; Head of Energy and Climate Strategy; and Head of Investor Relations.
Prior to joining Rio Tinto, Peter qualified as a chartered accountant.
Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm commented: “I am delighted to confirm Peter in the role and, having worked closely with him for a number of years, I know he is the ideal person to be our Chief Financial Officer. His detailed knowledge of the company and of the financial and non-financial drivers of our industry will be invaluable as we continue to strengthen Rio Tinto.”
Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson added: "I look forward to Peter joining the Rio Tinto Board and know from experience that his deep understanding of Rio Tinto and commitment to disciplined capital allocation will serve shareholders well and enrich our Board discussions.”
Rio Tinto aiming for net zero by 2050
Rio Tinto is aiming to reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Across the company, it is targeting a 15% reduction in absolute emissions and a 30% reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.
Aluminium is found in everything from cars to phones. But one of the challenges of producing this essential material responsibly is finding ways to decarbonise the process.
Part of the reason is creating alumina – the main ingredient in aluminium – takes a lot of energy, which in turn creates greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will be essential to helping reduce emissions, but many haven’t been proven. And some not yet even discovered. Rio Tinto is partnering with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)to develop hydrogen energy options and make a positive step towards these goals.