Ivanhoe Mines and Gécamines, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s state-owned mining company, have signed the new joint venture (JV) agreement to resume operations at the Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine in the DRC.

Under the term sheet, Kipushi Holding will transfer an additional 6% of the share capital in Kipushi Corporation (KICO) to Gécamines. This will increase Gécamines’ ownership in Kipushi Holding from 32% to 38%.

KICO is a JV between Ivanhoe Mines’ fully owned subsidiary Kipushi Holding and Gécamines. It operates the Kipushi mine.

The transaction also involves the transfer of an additional 5% share capital in KICO from Kipushi Holding to Gécamines from 25 January 2027. This will enable Gécamines to increase its ownership to 43%.

The term sheet between the parties comes after the agreement signed in February 2022 to redevelop the Kipushi zinc mine.

Gécamines chairman Guy-Robert Lukama Nkunzi said: “The restart of operations of a mine as emblematic as Kipushi, after 30 years of inactivity, is a strong signal of the desire and commitment of Gécamines, and its partner Ivanhoe Mines, to contribute to the DRC’s economic development, in accordance with the vision outlined by His Excellency, the President of the Republic Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo.”

According to Ivanhoe Mines, the new 800,000-tonne-per-annum concentrator is 79% complete and is ahead of schedule for first production in Q2 2024.

The new Kipushi concentrator includes dense media separation, milling and a flotation circuit, and is expected to produce more than 250,000 tonnes of zinc per annum over the first five years of production.

Ivanhoe Mines stated that the underground development at the Kipushi zinc mine is tracking ahead of schedule for the first production.

Ivanhoe Mines founder and executive co-chairman Robert Friedland said: “The project is advancing ahead of schedule, in line with our track record of operational excellence.

“Kipushi’s restart follows the timely and cost-effective delivery of Phases 1 and 2 at the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex, with Phase 3 now also ahead of schedule for first production in the third quarter of 2024.”