Ivanhoe Mines quadruples exploration budget for 2024

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) has increased its exploration budget for 2024 to $90 million, quadrupling the previous amount. The primary focus of exploration activities […]
Ivanhoe Mines executive co-chair Robert Friedland at CMS in London. Credit: The Northern Miner

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) has increased its exploration budget for 2024 to $90 million, quadrupling the previous amount.

The primary focus of exploration activities will be on the Western Foreland project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is adjacent to Ivanhoe’s successful Kamoa-Kakula operation.

“Firstly, we will continue to expand the Kitoko copper discovery with additional drill rigs, thereby increasing our knowledge of its substantial exploration opportunities,” said Ivanhoe founder and co-chair Robert Friedland.

“Second, we will advance our understanding of the Makoko and Kiala deposits and optimize our studies for near-term copper mine production on our majority-owned licenses. Finally, we will continue to evaluate high-priority targets across the Forelands, based on our fast-evolving proprietary database and geologic models for additional tier-one, high-grade copper discoveries,”

Ivanhoe announced last week the Kitoko discovery, saying it is similar to the massive orebody it is mining at the Kamoa-Kakula copper complex.

Selected drill results from Kitoko include 3.37 metres of 3.54% copper, 6.43 metres of 4.92% copper, 4.2 metres of 3.6% copper and 6.8 metres of 3.35% copper. All intervals are true widths, with a copper cut-off of 1.0%. 

Kitoko’s copper mineralization is hosted in near flat-lying siltstone of the lower Grand Conglomerate, similar to the geologic setting observed at the Kamoa, Kakula, Makoko and Kiala high-grade, sedimentary copper discoveries. 

According to the company, however, Kitoko discovery exhibits two remarkably different characteristics. 

“Firstly, the mineralization is hosted within the Grand Conglomerate, directly overlying the Kibaran Basement rocks with no underlying Mwashia sandstones. This is significant as Ivanhoe Mines’ geology team previously conceived that the sandstones are the primary sedimentary aquifer allowing the circulation of oxidized copper-bearing basinal fluids, which precipitated copper when they were brought into contact with overlaying pyrite-rich reduced sediments,” the company said.

“Secondly, mineralization at Kitoko occurs across at least two distinct, high-grade, sedimentary horizons. This emphasizes the strength of the mineralizing system, as sufficient copper remains in the fluid following the interaction with the lower reductant, to be able to subsequently mineralize a second horizon.”

As a result, the Ivanhoe exploration model has been disrupted by the Kitoko discovery, significantly increasing the proportion of the Western Foreland that is prospective for world-class, high-grade sedimentary copper systems, Ivanhoe reports.

Ivanhoe adds that it is in discussions with potential strategic investors, including major international corporations and sovereign wealth funds, regarding matters including, but not limited to, fast-tracking the development of the Western Foreland. 

Shares of Ivanhoe Mines rose 1.1% Thursday morning, for a market capitalization of C$14.8 billion ($10.8 billion).



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