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Kamoa Copper: Hot commissioning of Phase 2 concentrator plant to begin in April; up to 340,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate to be produced in 2022
2022/02/05 1389

Zijin News - The Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is crucial to Zijin Mining’s drive for leapfrog growth. The project’s 3.8-million-tonne-a-year (Mtpa) Phase 2 concentrator plant is expected to be 93% complete by January 31, with hot commissioning of the concentrator on track to begin in April 2022, well ahead of the original schedule of Q2 2022. On a 100%-project basis, the 2022 production guidance for the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Mine is between 290,000 to 340,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate.

First copper concentrate was produced from the 3.8-Mtpa Phase 1 concentrator plant of Kamoa Copper in May 2021. The plant reached its designed capacity soon in September 2021, a new record of “Zijin speed”. The concentrator currently is running at a throughput that is in excess of its designed capacity of 3.8-Mtpa by more than 15%. Copper recoveries are also being achieved that are in excess of design recovery of 86%. In 2021, the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Mine produced 105,900 tonnes of copper in concentrate, much higher than the guidance of 92,500 to 100,000 tonnes for the year.

With effective cooperation between Zijin Mining and Ivanhoe Mining and the added benefit of operational knowledge gained during the commissioning of Phase 1, feed rate adjustments and production ramp-up at the Phase 2 plant are expected to be fast-tracked. A dedicated engineering team has been appointed to de-bottleneck both the Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrators (after commissioning), with targeted improvements aimed at increasing plant throughput from the design of 7.6 Mtpa to 9.0 Mtpa and producing up to 450 Ktpa of copper in concentrate from the first two plants once steady-state is achieved.

The Phase 3 expansion, which is expected to be commissioned in Q4 2024, is also advancing, with work ongoing on a new box cut to access the Kamoa Mine. It also includes the construction of a 500 Ktpa blister copper smelter, which will be the largest copper smelter in Africa. With its basic engineering scheduled for completion in Q2 2022, the smelter will be able to smelt most of the concentrates produced by Kamoa-Kakula’s Phase 1, 2 and 3 concentrator plants. An updated pre-feasibility study of the Kamoa-Kakula project, including its Phase 3 expansion, is expected in Q3 2022. 

Kamoa-Kakula is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper complex, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mtpa at an estimated, average feed grade of more than 6.0% copper over the first five years of operations. Phase 1 is expected to produce approximately 200,000 tonnes of copper per year, while the Phase 2 expansion is forecast to increase production to more than 400,000 tonnes of copper annually, putting Kamoa-Kakula in the ranks of the world’s top 10 copper mines.

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. An independent audit of Kamoa-Kakula's greenhouse gas intensity metrics performed by Hatch Ltd. of Canada, confirmed that the project will be among the world's lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced.