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Gecamines and Ivanhoe Revive DRC’s Biggest Zinc Mine

Thursday, 04 July 2024 18:23
Gecamines and Ivanhoe Revive DRC’s Biggest Zinc Mine

(Ecofin Agency) - First commissioned in 1924, the Kipushi mine has been on care and maintenance since 1993. Gécamines and Canada's Ivanhoe Mines announced plans to restart the mine in 2022, focusing on a major zinc deposit.

On July 2, Ivanhoe Mines confirmed the restart of the Kipushi zinc-copper-lead-germanium mine, which it jointly owns with Gécamines in the DRC. This mine, inactive for 31 years, is expected to produce between 100,000 and 140,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate by 2024. 

During the first five years, annual zinc production is projected to reach 278,000 tonnes, making Kipushi the world's fourth-largest zinc mine. In 2023, the DRC officially exported 11,321 tonnes of zinc metal. Agreements have already been signed to sell Kipushi's zinc concentrate to Citic Metal Limited of Hong Kong and Trafigura Asia Trading of Singapore.

"It's not just the high zinc grades that make Kipushi extraordinary. Although only the Big Zinc deposit has been validated so far, the mine shows great potential for other essential metals," said Guy-Robert Lukama Nkunzi, President of Gécamines.

The DRC has increased its contribution to global copper and germanium production in recent years. From 2021 to 2023, the country moved from the 4th to the 2nd largest global producer and launched a hydrometallurgical plant in 2023 to secure up to 30% of the world's germanium supply.

The Kipushi mine, originally producing copper, is expected to deliver an average of 240,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate annually over a 14-year mine life, according to the 2022 feasibility study. Under an agreement announced in January 2024, Gécamines' stake in Kipushi will increase from 32% to 38%, to 43% in 2027. Ivanhoe Mines holds the remaining interest in the mine.

Emiliano Tossou



Public Management

ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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