Canadian Mining Journal


ZINC: Ivanhoe in talks to reopen high grade Kipushi mine

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines is in talks with the state owned miner Gecamines and the country’s state owned railroad concerning the reopening of the high grade Kipushi zinc-copper mine. The mine is owned by Kipushi Corp. (KICO), a joint venture of Ivanhoe (68%) and Gecamines (32%).

The crusher at the bottom Shaft 5 is being repaired as part of the underground rehabilitation of the Kipushi zinc mine. (Credit: Ivanhoe Mines)

The Kipushi’s Big Zinc deposit contains an estimated 10.2 million tonnes grading 34.9% zinc in the measured and indicated category. The project will probably be the world’s highest grade major zinc mine. The pre-feasibility study is due for release by year-end.

Union Miniere operated the mine for 42 years, beginning in 1924. It was the world’s richest open pit copper mine at the time, and mining eventually moved underground. Gecamines gained control in 1967 and ran the mine until 1993. Over its life, Kipushi has produced 6.6 million tonnes of zinc and 4.0 million tonnes of copper from 60 million tonnes of ore grading 11% zinc and about 7% copper. It also produced 278 tonnes of germanium and 12,673 tonnes of lead between 1956 and 1978.

KICO has rehabilitated most of the underground workings and is now concentrating on the surface infrastructure. The May 2016 preliminary economic assessment outlined a two-year construction period and then commercial production of zinc concentrate at an annual rate of 530,000 tonnes.

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