Overview of Kipushi site or Sunrise over the Kipushi Site

Kipushi Zinc Mine, developed by a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines and Gecamines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is set to be back in business with the mine restart works well underway and on track to produce zinc concentrate in the second half of 2024. The Kipushi Mine’s historical operations yielded 60 million tonnes of ore containing 11% zinc and 7% copper prior to being placed on care and maintenance in 1993, driven by negative economic factors.

The mine is set to return to production with Ivanhoe targeting an ultra-high-grade zinc mineralisation known as Big Zinc Zone that was discovered as mine operations were about to be halted in 1993.

METC helps bring Kipushi mine back to life. Start of the 24-hour ball mill foundation pour
Start of the 24-hour ball mill foundation pour

One of the firms appointed to manage the redevelopment of the Kipushi Mine is METC Engineering. METC secured the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Management (EPCM) contract for the project.

The project execution has not been without its challenges. METC had to employ innovative and practical earthworks and foundation designs to deal with the weathered and clayey soil, necessitating a 10 metres deep excavation to reach competent material for the ball mill foundations, which have become METC’s deepest to date.

The Kasumbalesa border post between Zambia and the DRC, is considered one of the busiest commercial border posts in Africa, serving as the primary gateway of imports into the south of DRC, as well as the only corridor for minerals exports. Queues of trucks entering the DRC at the Kasumbalesa border post, stretched between 70 and 90 kilometres long at times during the project. METC’s experience with other DRC-based projects led to the anticipation of these delays. Through the early engagement of suppliers and a logistics partner to advance the delivery schedules, and the close monitoring of equipment and material shipments, METC successfully managed to prevent these delays from impacting the project.

METC helps bring Kipushi mine back to life. Ongoing Pour of the Ball mill foundation.
Ongoing Pour of the Ball mill foundation

Kipushi mine has access to a huge, high quality zinc deposit, which was discovered in the 1990s. The deposit is over a kilometre underground and has not yet been mined. Usually, zinc mines produce only 10% yield, with 90% waste. With Kipushi’s abundant zinc deposit, the projected yield is at 70% with 30% waste, which makes for a unique mass balance. This put the adaptability and flexibility of METC’s process design team to the test, where, for example, the high mass pull requires the concentrate thickeners to be significantly larger than the tailings thickeners.

Kipushi mine was first established in 1924, when it started production from a surface open pit. Over the years, the mine has produced copper, zinc and germanium.

The new mine will process an estimated 800,000 tons per month of zinc ore with an average head-grade of 32% zinc over its 14-year life-of-mine.

METC helps bring Kipushi mine back to life. Overview of Kipushi site or Sunrise over the Kipushi Site.
Overview of Kipushi site or Sunrise over the Kipushi Site

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