Kamoa is the world's largest undeveloped, high-grade copper deposit; it also is one of the world's largest undeveloped copper deposits. On January 17, 2013, an updated mineral resource was announced that increased Kamoa's Indicated Mineral Resources to a total of 739 million tonnes grading 2.67% copper and containing 43.5 billion pounds of copper. This was an increase of 115% over the previous September 2011 estimate of 348 million tonnes grading 2.64% copper and containing 20.2 billion pounds of copper. Both estimates used a 1% copper cut-off grade and a minimum vertical mining thickness of three metres.
In addition to the Indicated Mineral Resources, the new estimate included Inferred Mineral Resources of 227 million tonnes grading 1.96% copper and containing 9.8 billion pounds of copper, also at a 1% copper cut-off grade and a minimum vertical mining thickness of three metres.
The latest Kamoa resource estimate was prepared by AMEC, based on core from 555 holes drilled to December 10, 2012, in accordance with CIM Guidelines and under the direction of Technical Director Dr. Harry Parker.
At a higher, 2% copper cut-off grade, Kamoa's Indicated Resources now total 550 million tonnes grading 3.04% copper and containing 36.9 billion pounds of copper. At the 2% cut-off, Kamoa also has 93 million tonnes of Inferred Resources grading 2.64% copper, which contains an estimated 5.4 billion pounds of copper.
The current base-case, 5.0-million-tonne-per-annum mine plan estimates the production of an average of 143,000 tonnes of copper per year in the first 10 years. However, preliminary work indicates that an initial mine production rate and associated concentrator capacity of 7.5 million tonnes per annum may allow more efficient use of the assumed capital. The mine plan represents a preliminary economic assessment. It is preliminary in nature, includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and there is no certainty that the preliminary economic assessment will be realized. Mineral Resources are not mineral reserves and do not have demonstrated economic viability.
Potential mining rates of up to 20 million tonnes a year under consideration
In August 2012, the DRC government granted mining licences for the Kamoa Project that cover 400 square kilometres. The licences are valid for 30 years and can be renewed at 15-year intervals.
The new resource model will form the basis of an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) due for completion in the first half of 2013. The base case of the updated PEA is expected to consider an initial mine production rate of 7.5 million tonnes per annum. Given the project's significant estimated Mineral Resource tonnage and its large lateral extent, potential mining rates of up to 20 million tonnes per annum may be possible through operating in multiple mining areas and a series of production expansions to maximize extraction capacity.
Metallurgical testwork is ongoing at XPS in Sudbury, Canada. Copper recoveries for most of the various ore types tested range from 80% to 90%, with the major ore type producing recoveries above 85%. Concentrate compositions from the various ore types are suitable for smelting.
Studies are underway to finalize all engineering and commercial aspects for the upgrading of the Koni and Mwadingusha hydroelectric power stations. These studies are expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013.
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