November 23, 2016: Ivanhoe Mines reports excellent progress has been made in upgrading and modernizing the Kipushi Mine’s shafts, pumping stations and underground infrastructure as part of the plan to prepare the mine for the restart of commercial production
The current mine redevelopment plan, as outlined in the May 2016 independent, preliminary economic assessment (PEA), includes a two-year construction period with a relatively quick ramp-up to a projected steady-state production of 530,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate per annum. A pre-feasibility study (PFS) is underway to refine the findings of the PEA and to optimize the mine’s redevelopment schedule, life-of-mine operating costs and initial capital costs required to bring the mine back into production. Ivanhoe expects to complete the PFS in the second quarter of 2017.
Rebirth of a Copperbelt legend
The Kipushi Project is operated by Kipushi Corporation (KICO), a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (68%) and Gécamines (32%), the state-owned mining company. The PEA and PFS focus on the mining of Kipushi’s Big Zinc Deposit, which has an estimated 10.2 million tonnes of Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources grading 34.9% zinc. This grade is more than twice as high as the Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources of the world’s next-highest-grade zinc project, according to Wood Mackenzie, a leading, international industry research and consulting group.
KICO has upgraded the operating shafts, winders and underground infrastructure at the Cascade section of the mine, which are expected to serve as alternate personnel and material shafts – as well as a second egress route from the mine. A new high-volume ventilation fan also has been installed on surface at Shaft 4 to provide fresh air to the underground workings.
The main production shaft for the Kipushi Mine, Shaft 5, is in the process of being upgraded and re-commissioned. The main personnel and material winder has been upgraded and modernized to meet western industry standards and safety criteria, and new cages will be installed in 2017. The rock-hoisting winder, which will have a potential annual hoisting capacity of 1.8 million tonnes, is being upgraded and is expected to be fully operational in late 2017.
The critical path for the redevelopment of the mine runs through the upgrading of the Shaft 5 rock-hoisting winder, as well as the re-commissioning of the main pumping station at Shaft 5, the underground crusher at the bottom of Shaft 5, the Shaft 5 rock load-out facilities and the restoration of the main haulage way on the 1,150-metre level between the Big Zinc access decline and Shaft 5.
Shaft 5, which is planned to be the mine’s main production shaft, is eight metres in diameter, 1,240 metres deep and approximately 1.5 kilometres from the planned main mining area. The rock hoist and load-out system will be upgraded to western industry standards during 2017 to fully restore the shaft’s hoisting capacity. Shaft 5 provides the primary access to the lower levels of the mine, including the Big Zinc Deposit, through the 1,150-metre haulage level and underground ramp decline.
The planned primary mining method for the Big Zinc Deposit in the PEA and PFS is sublevel open stoping, with cemented backfill. The crown pillars are expected to be mined once adjacent stopes are backfilled using a pillar-retreat mining method. The Big Zinc Deposit is expected to be accessed via the existing decline and without any significant new development. The main levels are planned to be at 60-metre vertical intervals, with sublevels at 30-metre intervals.