Ivanhoe Mines: Kamoa-Kakula sets production record in DRC
Ivanhoe mines achieved a production record in February at the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the DRC. The 339,000 tonnes mined and stockpiled in February had an average ore grading of 5.5%; this included 47,300 tonnes grading 4.62% copper from the Kansoko Mine, establishing a new monthly production record at Kansoko. The overall tonnage also included 107,000 tonnes grading 9.01% copper from the high-grade centre of the Kakula Mine.
The project’s pre-production surface stockpiles now contain approximately 2.16 million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore at an estimated blended average of 4.44% copper. Contained copper in the stockpiles increased by approximately 19,000 tonnes in February – a 19.2% increase over January’s production – to a cumulative total of more than 95,000 tonnes (the current copper price is approximately $9,100 a tonne).
Kamoa-Kakula is on track to have more than three million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore stockpiled on surface, holding more than 125,000 tonnes of contained copper, prior to the planned start of processing in July 2021.
Ivanhoe believe the potential for sustained higher copper prices further improves the outstanding economics of the project.
“We’ve been publicly stating for the record confidence about higher copper prices in real terms for a long time. The stars now are aligning for the start of production at Kamoa-Kakula,” said Co-Executive Chairman Robert Friedland. “We believe we’re only on the cusp of what will be a structural, powerful and long-term commodity rally given supply limitations and fundamental demand from global green initiatives.”
“The economics for pushing ahead with the Phase 3 and 4 expansions to bring the project’s mining rate to 19 Mtpa are compelling,” added Friedland. “At this expanded rate, Kamoa-Kakula will rank as the world’s second largest copper producer, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 tonnes. Our team has only scratched the surface on our massive, 100%-owned exploration licences in the adjoining Western Foreland region that shares virtually identical geology to Kamoa-Kakula and is the focus of an expansive exploration campaign from this year onwards.”
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”