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New rail operations for DRC?

Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines is in talks with Congolese rail firm Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo (SNCC) about bringing the Kipushi mine back into production. The mine, which is located in Haut-Katanga Province, and is very close to the Zambian border, was previously operated by Union Minière, and then the state-owned mining company of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gécamines. A disused spur line connects the mine to the Congolese rail system, and then Zambia.

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The mine owner is Kipushi Corporation (KICO), which is 68% owned by Ivanhoe Mines, with Gécamines holding the remaining equity. Robert Friedland, Ivanhoe’s founder and executive chairman, said: “The mine has the potential to become one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost zinc producers, while also producing significant quantities of copper, silver and germanium.” The mine’s underground infrastructure is already being modernised by KICO, while Ivanhoe is completing its prefeasibility study.

Friedland said that the mine’s “production costs are near the bottom of the world cost curve [and] the lowest capital intensity, due to the exceptionally high grades”. Most of Katanga’s mineral production is shipped out of South African ports, but the range of export options is increasing.

The railway from the Angolan port of Lobito to eastern Angola is due to be extended into southern DRC, while plans to upgrade the Tanzania-Zambia-Railway (Tazara) could make Dar es Salaam a more attractive option. Ivanhoe also plans to develop its Kamoa-Kakula copper project in Katanga


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