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High-grade copper discovered in Ivanhoe’s Western Foreland region

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

The Co-Chairmen of Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines (Ivanhoe), Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun have announced a significant discovery of high-grade copper on its wholly-owned Western Foreland licenses, west of the Kamoa-Kakula mining licence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ivanhoe owns approximately 700 km2 of prospective, 100%-owned exploration licences in the Western Foreland area. Ivanhoe began exploration drilling on the licences in 3Q17. To date, the company has drilled more than 50 holes, the great majority of which have been in the Makoko Discovery area.

Makoko is the first of multiple high-potential target areas identified by Ivanhoe’s exploration team to be tested by drilling. An initial, independent resource estimate for the Makoko Copper Discovery is expected in the current financial quarter. In addition, Ivanhoe recently began exploration drilling on other targets identified in the Western Foreland area to test for high-grade copper.

Selected drill holes at the Makoko Discovery include:

  • DD004 (the Makoko discovery hole) intersected 3.94 m of 5.46% copper, at a 2.0% copper cut-off, and 3.94 m (true width) of 5.46% copper at a 1.0% copper cut-off, from a downhole depth of 306 m.
  • DD010 intersected 3.21 m of 6.78% copper, at a 2.0% copper cut-off, and 3.95 m (true width) of 5.81% copper at a 1.0% copper cut-off, from a downhole depth of 441 m.
  • DD017 intersected 3.19 m of 6.49% copper at a 2.0% copper cut-off, and 4.64 m (true width) of 4.88% copper, at a 1.0% copper cut-off, from a downhole depth of 471.7 m.
  • DD025 intersected 3.00 m (true widtha downhole depth of 406 m.
  • DD046 intersected 7.44 m (true width) of 7.81% copper at a 2.0% copper cut-off, and 9.39 m (true width) of 6.51% copper, at a 1.0% copper cut-off, from a downhole depth of 523.51 m.

Friedland commented: “This latest discovery at Makoko validates our exploration model for the geologic features controlling the high-grade copper mineralisation in the region.”

“Given the early drilling success at Makoko, we are highly confident that we have the secret blueprint for additional exploration successes in the Western Foreland area in 2019 and beyond.”

“We are in the privileged position of owning 100% of a massive exploration land package with outstanding geological potential next door to our Kamoa and Kakula discoveries. Kamoa-Kakula already has been independently established as the world’s fourth-largest copper project and still is growing. It has copper grades that are the highest, by a wide margin, of the world’s top 10 copper deposits,” Friedland added.

Exploration history

Exploration on Ivanhoe’s Western Foreland licences began in July 2017, with the construction of all-season access roads, bridge construction and the development of new camp facilities. At the same time, Ivanhoe undertook airborne and ground-based geophysical surveys and revisited previously acquired geophysical and geochemical data sets. The interpretative work led to the definition of a number of promising exploration targets, of which Makoko was the first to be tested with drilling.

The initial discovery hole at Makoko, DD004, was drilled in September 2017. Follow-up and infill drilling has been ongoing since then. Drilling to date at Makoko has defined a flat-lying, near-surface stratiform copper deposit, similar to the Kamoa and Kakula deposits. The structure contour map indicates that the mineralised formation in the Makoko area is within 1000 m of surface. The majority of the drilling to date at Makoko has intersected the copper-rich zone 400 – 800 m below surface.

The mineralised zone at Makoko strikes approximately south-southeast. It has been tested over a strike length of 4.5 km and a dip extent of between 1 - 2 km. Copper mineralisation remains open both along strike and down dip.

The Grand Conglomerate unit (coarse-grained clastic sedimentary rock), the base of which hosts copper mineralisation in the Western Foreland area, underlies the majority of the area covered by exploration licences held by Ivanhoe, with the base of the unit interpreted to be generally within 600 m of surface.

At the nearby Kakula Discovery, the highest copper grades are associated with a siltstone-sandstone unit occurring within the Grand Conglomerate, located approximately 1 m above the top of the Mwashia sandstone unit. Mineralisation at Kakula consistently is bottom loaded, with grades increasing down-hole toward the contact between the host Grand Conglomerate and the underlying sandstone unit.

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