Ivanhoe’s Kamoa Copper JV signs 10-year processing deal with DRC-based smelter

IVANHOE Mines said its Kamoa Copper joint venture, which runs the Kamoa-Kakula mine with China’s Zijin Mining, had signed a ten year deal to process a portion of its copper concentrate at a smelter in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This is to comply with DRC regulations which prohibit copper concentrate exports. The regulations are an effort by the central African country to boost local smelting of the metal, according to an article by Reuters.

The Lualaba smelter, majority-owned by China Nonferrous Mining, will treat up to 150,000 tons of concentrate a year from the Kamoa-Kakula mine in return for a treatment charge and market-based realisation fee, said Reuters.

The 400,000 tons a year capacity smelter, which is around 40 kilometres from the mine by road, will produce blister copper ingots containing around 99% copper. 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 CFO, Rochelle de Villiers. The first delivery was made on Tuesday.

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 tons of copper in concentrate this year and peak annual output of over 800,000 tons after several phases of expansion.