Home » Ivanhoe Mines Revitalizes Kipushi Mine, Resumes Production After 31 Years

Ivanhoe Mines Revitalizes Kipushi Mine, Resumes Production After 31 Years

Zinc Production Set to Position Kipushi Among Global Leaders

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Ivanhoe Mines, a key player in the global mining sector, has officially announced the completion of construction and the subsequent restart of the Kipushi mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This significant development comes exactly one hundred years after the mine’s initial operations and thirty-one years following its suspension and shift to care and maintenance.

The Kipushi mine, renowned for its substantial deposits of zinc, copper, lead, and germanium, has recently delivered its first ore to the Kipushi concentrator on May 31. By June 14, the mine produced its first concentrate, signaling a promising restart to its operations. Looking ahead to 2024, Kipushi has set an ambitious production guidance, aiming to produce between 100,000 and 140,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate.

This reopening positions Kipushi to become the fourth-largest zinc mine globally within the next five years, with an expected average production capacity of 278,000 tonnes per annum. This projection places it among the world’s top zinc producers, as highlighted in the 2025 forecast for the world’s top 10 zinc mines by paid zinc production per annum.

The strategic agreements and partnerships are important to Kipushi’s operational success. Ivanhoe Mines has secured off-take agreements for Kipushi’s high-grade zinc concentrate with significant players in the industry, including CITIC Metal (HK) Limited of Hong Kong and Trafigura Asia Trading of Singapore. These agreements ensure a steady and reliable market for the mine’s output, and more agreements are anticipated in the near future.

Financial backing is equally robust, with financing facilities totaling $170 million arranged through partnerships with CITIC Metal, Trafigura, and First Bank DRC of Kinshasa, DRC. Of this, $50 million has already been drawn, providing necessary capital for the mine’s operations and further development.

Robert Friedland, founder and executive co-chairperson of Ivanhoe Mines, expressed pride in this monumental achievement. “Returning the historic Kipushi mine to production alongside our DRC State-owned JV partner Gécamines marks a century after Kipushi’s first operations. The rebirth of the mine is a major and state-of-the-art achievement for our operations team, the people of the DRC, and the local community in Kipushi town,” he stated.

He further highlighted the efficiency and innovation behind the mine’s resurgence. “With the construction and first concentrate milestones delivered substantially ahead of schedule, Kipushi will be one of the world’s leading producers of high-grade, low-emissions zinc and associated metals,” Friedland added.

The company running the mine, Kipushi Corporation SA (KICO), has an ownership and governance structure that demonstrates a substantial level of public-private sector cooperation. Through its wholly-owned subsidiary Kipushi Holding, Ivanhoe Mines owns a 68% share, with Gécamines, a state-owned mining corporation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, owning the other 32%.

This cooperative project promises to have a significant positive economic impact on the surrounding area. Kipushi’s revival is evidence of Ivanhoe Mines’ dedication to environmentally friendly mining methods and its contribution to strengthening the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s standing in the world mining market.

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