The Kamoa Copper Mining Complex has been independently ranked as the world’s largest, high-grade copper discovery by international mining consultant Wood Mackenzie. It contains a very large, near-surface, flat-lying, stratiform copper deposit with adjacent prospective exploration areas within the Central African Copperbelt. Kamoa Copper’s license area is 397.4 square kilometres and is located approximately 25 kilometres west of the town of Kolwezi and about 270 kilometres west of Lubumbashi.
The Kamoa Copper Mining Complex comprises four ore bodies, namely Kakula (currently in production), Kansoko (under development), Kakula West (planned) and Kamoa North (planned) – which, alone, could host five or more separate mines.
Kamoa Copper’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrator plants, both of which are currently in production, have a combined processing capacity of 7.6 million tonnes per annum and are expected to produce 400,000 tonnes per annum of contained copper.
A debottlenecking initiative is expected to expand Kamoa’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrators by 21% to a combined design processing capacity of 9.2 million tonnes per annum, with an annual copper output of more than 450,000 tonnes per annum of contained copper by Q2, 2023, positioning Kamoa Copper as the world’s fourth-largest copper producer.
Ore for the first two phases of the project is being mined from the Kakula Mine, with additional material handling capacity being evaluated at Kakula to increase mining rates to feed the de-bottlenecked Phase 1 and 2 processing capacity of 9.2 million tonnes of ore per annum.
While the underground infrastructure expansion at Kakula takes place, ore will be drawn periodically from the surface stockpiles to maximize copper production.
The Phase 3 expansion, with a 5 million tonne per annum concentrator plant, is expected to boost total copper production to approximately 600,000 tonnes per annum and is currently scheduled to begin operations by the fourth quarter of 2024. This production rate will position Kamoa Copper as the world’s third-largest copper producer, and the largest copper mining complex on the African continent.
This is part of a modular, phased expansion scenario to 19 million tonnes per annum.
The envisioned expansion to 19 million tonnes per annum, which is preliminary in nature, would position Kamoa Copper as the world’s second largest copper miner, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 tonnes of contained copper.
The Phase 1 concentrator, with a processing design capacity of 3.8 million tonnes per annum, took around 18 months to build and was completed several months ahead of schedule. The first ore was introduced into the concentrator plant on 20 May 2021 and produced the first copper concentrate on 25 May 2021. By September 2021, the Phase 1 concentrator exceeded its steady-state design throughput.
In late March 2022, the Phase 2 concentrator plant began hot commissioning significantly ahead of schedule. The first ore was introduced into the Phase 2 milling circuit on 21 March 2022, and the first copper concentrate was produced approximately four months ahead of the originally announced development schedule.
Commercial production from the Phase 2 concentrator was declared on 7 April 2022, while steady state production was achieved at the end of May 2022.
Kamoa Copper approved a debottlenecking plan in February 2022 to increase the combined design processing capacity of the Phase 1 and 2 concentrators from 7.6 million to approximately 9.2 million tonnes of ore per annum.
The debottlenecking will increase the production from Kamoa’s first two phases to approximately 450,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate by Q2 2023 – positioning Kamoa Copper as the world’s fourth largest copper producer.
The Phase 3 expansion at Kamoa Copper, currently under development, will consist of two new underground mines, known as Kamoa 1 and Kamoa 2, and a new 5-million-tonne-per-annum concentrator plant to be established adjacent to the two new mines.
The Phase 3 expansion also includes a direct-to-blister flash smelter, which will produce approximately 99% copper metal.
In November 2021, Kamoa Copper awarded China Nerin Engineering the basic engineering contract for the planned smelter, which is to be built adjacent to the Kamoa Copper Phase 1 and 2 concentrator plants.
The smelter will incorporate state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly smelter technology aligned with Kamoa Copper’s goal of producing the world’s greenest copper.
With a nameplate capacity of 500,000 tonnes per annum of blister copper, it is projected to be one of the largest, single-line blister-copper flash smelters in the world, and the largest in Africa.