In the July edition of Modern Mining, the editor is encouraged by copper prospects in the DRC. Notwithstanding the country’s many challenges, the copper mining industry is likely to further raise the value of the DRC mining sector.
In 2013, the DRC surpassed Zambia for the very first time, to become Africa’s leading copper producer, with a total annual output of 925 000 tonnes. This was an extraordinary achievement, given that barely 10 years earlier, the country had been producing a mere 70 000 tonnes annually. Fast forward to 2020, and the DRC is among the top five copper producers in the world, with a total annual production of 1,3-million tonnes.
Remarkably, the average mineral grade of copper in the DRC is fairly high, making it a mining destination of choice for many investors. Most copper mines in the DRC are predicted to have an average ore grade of over 3%, far higher than the global average of between 0,6% and 0,8%.
A case in point is Central Copper Resources’ Mbamba Kilenda (MK) copper project, being developed in what is dubbed a new copper province in the DRC. The MK project is located on the western side of the DRC, within 70 km of Kinshasa, and sits on the West Copper Belt which extends over 1 400 km from Angola, DRC, ROC to Gabon, with known projects such as Mavoio Telo where 16 Mt at 2,46% Cu remains after mining of the high grade ore.
Historic exploration defined the mineralisation at this particular area during the 1950s and 1960s. MK has been identified as the first project expected to be within the eastern 15 km zone of the overall 85 km strike that makes up the total project area.
Future exploration will focus on resource extension and allow for the addition of further phases of development within the project. Previous drilling has proved high grade oxide copper, zinc, lead and silver mineralisation.
The unique nature of the orebody is defined as a shallow mineral continuity in a high-grade horizontal seam, which allows for the use of low-cost, bulk mining methods with the advantage of automated operation.
However, for the DRC to realise its maximum copper potential, the new administration of Félix Tshisekedi should prioritise an investor-friendly environment. Tshisekedi won the December 2018 election to succeed Joseph Kabila, who had been at the country’s helm for 18 years.
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