Friedland forges on with reopening of century-old Congo mine

Robert Friedland, CEO of Ivanhoe Mines

MINING entrepreneur Robert Friedland’s tour de force in developing mining projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reached a new milestone this week with the restart of the Kipushi zinc mine by his Ivanhoe Mines group.

The Kipushi mine began operations a century ago, but has been on care and maintenance for the past 31 years. The first concentrate from the new operations was produced on June 14 and 2024 production guidance has been set at between 100,000 and 140,000 tons of zinc in concentrate.

Plans are that Kipushi will produce an average of 278,000 tons of zinc concentrate annually during the first five years of operation making it the fourth-largest zinc mine in the world. Half of that output will be exported through the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia and the other half through Durban.

Kipushi follows the development by Ivanhoe of the Kamoa-Kakula copper mining complex in the DRC which produced 393,551 tons of copper concentrates in 2023 and is targeting an output of up to 490,000 tons of copper concentrates in 2024.

Friedland has long sung the praises of the DRC as a mining destination which was superior to the established – but ageing – giant copper mines in South America. He declared in 2023 at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town that “the Congo is the best place in the world to go mining”.

As Ivanhoe has ramped up its DRC operations the group’s share price quoted on the Toronto Stock Exchange has exploded rising from just C$2.44/share in March 2020 to around C$19/share currently way outperforming the shares of established mining groups like BHP and Anglo American.