DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – The cost estimates for the Tenke copper-cobalt project in this African nation have virtually doubled in six months. FREEPORT McMORAN COPPER AND GOLD, which holds a 57.75% interest in the project, said a review prepared this month indicated estimated capital costs of US$1.75 billion. Just six months ago, in October 2007, capital requirements were estimated at US$900 million.
The higher cost is due in part to the decision to increase the size of the project. Initially the Tenke project was to produce 115,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt annually, based on ore reserves of 100 million tonnes grading 2.3% Cu and 0.3% Co. Recent drilling has allowed Freeport, which is funding 70% of the costs, to plan a larger capacity operation. Initial production is still expected in mid-2009.
The new capital estimate includes more housing and support facilities for the workforce, upgrading national roads and bridges, and extended social and training initiatives. Also, the new estimate takes into account the industry-wide cost of mine construction.
LUNDIN MINING of Vancouver holds a 24.75% equity interest. Its total commitment to development funding at Tenke is in the range of US$180 million to US$210 million.
Further details are posted at www.LundinMining.com and www.FCX.com.