Kamoa-Kakula's Phase 1 and 2 concentrator plants set a monthly production record in September 2022 of 33,484 tonnes of copper in concentrate, and continue to regularly surpass a combined throughput design capacity of 7.6 million tonnes per annum, following the early commissioning of Phase 2 in April 2022, said Ivanhoe.
Kamoa-Kakula's Phase 1 and 2 concentrator plants milled approximately 2.1 million tonnes of ore during the third quarter at an average feed grade of 5.6% copper. This included high-grade, run-of-mine ore from the Kakula Mine, supplemented with ore from the surface stockpiles to meet the throughput in excess of design capacity. In line with design parameters, copper recoveries averaged approximately 86% during the quarter.
Ongoing mining optimization work at the Kakula Mine successfully targeted higher head grades during the third quarter, said the company, with the goal of increasing head grades up to 6% copper.
Kamoa Copper continues to evaluate additional material handling capacity at the Kakula Mine to increase mining rates to feed the de-bottlenecked Phase 1 and 2 processing capacity of 9.2 million tonnes per year. Further details will be incorporated into the Phase 3 expansion pre-feasibility study, scheduled for year-end.
To date, a total of 118.3 kilometres (73.5 miles) of underground development has been mined across the mining complex. While the ongoing expansion of underground infrastructure at the Kakula Mine takes place, ore will be drawn periodically from the stockpile to maximize copper production, as the concentrators are currently operating in excess of design capacity. Kamoa-Kakula's total high- and medium-grade ore surface stockpiles totaled approximately 4.2 million tonnes at an estimated grade of 4.15% copper for a total of over 174,000 tonnes of contained copper, as of the end of September 2022.
The Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrator plants now are operating at an annualized production rate of approximately 400,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, and have periodically exceeded this rate daily during the third quarter. The de-bottlenecking program is on track to boost Kamoa Copper's annual production to approximately 450,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate by the second quarter of 2023.
Management continues to anticipate that the early commissioning of the Phase 2 concentrator plant in March 2022, approximately four months ahead of schedule, will enable Kamoa Copper to deliver in the upper range of its increased 2022 production guidance of 310,000 to 340,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate.
Ivanhoe Mines' Founder and Executive Co-Chairman, Robert Friedland commented: "Kamoa-Kakula has effectively doubled its copper production rate to approximately 400,000 tonnes per year since the first quarter, and is expected to be producing at an annualized rate of 450,000 tonnes per year by the second quarter of 2023. This all has been achieved ahead of schedule and on budget ... a true pink unicorn in the mining industry and a great credit to the operating team at Kamoa Copper and our joint-venture partner, Zijin Mining.
"This success is built upon Ivanhoe Mines' industry-leading history of mineral discovery, which will play a pivotal role in the company's future. We remain committed to discovering and developing tier-one ore bodies … to provide a supply of metals critically needed for the electrification of the world economy ... and reduction of greenhouse gases throughout the supply chain."