TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines has announced that a large capacity rock crusher has been successfully installed 1 150 m below surface at the upgraded Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine in the DRC.
The Sandvik jaw crusher has a maximum capacity of 1 085 tonnes an hour. After the 54-tonne machine was disassembled on surface, the pieces were lowered down Kipushi’s main production shaft – Shaft 5 – and installed in the crusher chamber. Reassembly of the crusher is underway and commissioning is expected to begin in June.
Main frame of the new underground rock crusher being transported to the 1 150-metre level crusher chamber (photo: Ivanhoe).
“The installation of the massive new rock crusher at the bottom of Shaft 5 is a noteworthy engineering accomplishment,” said Robert Friedland, Executive Chairman of Ivanhoe. “It marks the final, major underground infrastructure upgrading project needed to resume underground mining, crushing and hoisting operations at Kipushi.”
Friedland said negotiations are ongoing with government agencies – Gécamines, the state-owned miner and Ivanhoe’s partner at Kipushi, and SNCC, the DRC’s national railway company – and potential project financiers to advance agreements to launch a new era of commercial production at Kipushi.
“Since acquiring our 68 % interest in the Kipushi project in 2011, our team has worked with Gécamines to achieve our shared objective of resuming commercial production,” Friedland added. “In parallel with ongoing mine upgrading work and completion of the definitive feasibility study, we are evaluating a number of proposals we have received to fund the remaining infrastructure construction.”
Built and then operated by Union Minière for 42 years, Kipushi began mining a reported 18 % copper from a surface open pit in 1924. Then it transitioned to become a high-grade, underground copper, zinc and germanium mine. Gécamines gained control of Kipushi in 1967 and operated the mine until 1993, when it was placed on care and maintenance due to a combination of economic and political factors.
The planned restoration of production at Kipushi is based on initial mining that will be focused on the Big Zinc deposit, which was discovered by Gécamines before it idled the mine. No mining has ever been conducted on the Big Zinc’s mineral resources.