Ivanhoe Says Congo Copper Find May Be Africa’s Most Notable

  • Discovery at Kakula is ‘enormous,’ Ivanhoe Mines’ Watum says
  • Ivanhoe talking to government about boosting Congo’s stake

Results from drilling at a copper deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo being explored by Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. show what may prove to be the most significant discovery of the metal in Africa, the company said.

The find at Kakula, in the southern portion of Ivanhoe’s Kamoa project, is “enormous,” Ivanhoe Mines DRC Managing Director Louis Watum said at a conference in the capital, Kinshasa. Discussions are under way on how to adjust the development strategy to allocate sufficient funds to bring the new discovery into production as soon as possible, he said in an interview afterward.

“Earlier discoveries already have established Kamoa as the world’s largest, undeveloped, high-grade copper discovery,” the company said in a separate statement. Kakula “could prove to be Africa’s most significant copper discovery,” it said.

Under the current plans, the original Kamoa discovery would move to production in the final quarter of 2018. Ivanhoe still has to finalize the terms under which it will increase the government’s stake in the project from 5 to 20 percent.

Sale Opposed

Congo last year opposed the sale by Ivanhoe of 49.5 percent in the Kamoa project to China’s Zijin Mining. The government lifted its objection in September, in return for an additional 15 percent in the local operating company Kamoa Copper SA.

Zijin completed the acquisition in December, although terms for the increase in the state’s participation still haven’t been agreed on. Negotiations are ongoing and a positive outcome is expected soon, Watum said.

Congo is Africa’s biggest copper miner, producing almost 1 million metric tons of the metal last year that ranked the country as fifth-largest globally, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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