China’s Fifteenth Metallurgical Foreign Company is constructing the Pumpi copper-cobalt project with a 2.6Mtpa ore processing capacity. Image courtesy of China 15th Metallurgical Construction Group.
Wanbao Mining Company is the main investor of the Pumpi copper-cobalt project. Image courtesy of Wanbao Mining.
The Pumpi copper-cobalt mine produced its first batch of cathode copper in September 2020. Image courtesy of China 15th Metallurgical Construction Group.

The Pumpi copper-cobalt project is an open-pit mining project located in the Kolwezi territory of Katanga Province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The project is operated by Comika Mining and the development partners include China’s Wanbao Mining Company (75%), Manegem Group (20%) and Congolese (5%).

While the ground-breaking ceremony for the project was held in March 2019, the main civil construction works were started in May 2019.

The project produced its first batch of cathode copper in September 2020. The Pumpi copper-cobalt project is expected to produce up to 40,000 tonnes (t) of copper and 5,000t of cobalt a year.

Project location and geology

The Pumpi copper-cobalt mine is located approximately 70km east of the Kolwezi city and 110km northwest of the Likasi city, in the Katanga province, in the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The project site comprises five copper-cobalt ore bodies covering a total area of approximately 27km2. The mine site lies approximately 230km away from the provincial capital city Lubumbashi.

The Pumpi ore bodies intersect the megabreccia-cored anticlines at the junction of the Tenke-Fungurume district and the Katanga anticline.

Copper and cobalt reserves at Pumpi

The Pumpi copper-cobalt project comprises the Pumpi Nord (PN), Pumpi Gare (PG), Pumpi GareSud (PGS), Kamassami Simba (KS), and the Kamassani Est (KE) deposit.

The project is estimated to hold up to 800,000t of copper and 100,000t of cobalt reserves.

Mining and processing

The Pumpi mine adopts open-pit mining method for ore production. The run-of-the-mine (ROM) ore will undergo coarse crushing, semi-automatic grinding, as well as ball milling-single stage and ball mill circuit (SABC) beneficiation, sulphuric acid leaching, counter current decantation (CCD) extraction, and electro winning processes for the production of cathode copper and cobalt hydroxide.

The ore processing capacity of the facility will be 2.6 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).

The main infrastructure facilities for the project include a coarse crushing station, a ball mill, five thickeners, heavy plate feeder, jaw crusher, series belt conveyor, cable bridge, transformer, control box, pipeline gallery, 31 non-standard tanks of cobalt recovery, a copper electrode car rectifier room, and product silos.

Supporting infrastructure facilities

The other supporting infrastructure facilities for the Pumpi copper-cobalt project site include a civil mixing plant, a steel bar stockyard, three material warehouses, woodworking workshops, grinding workshop, steel bar workshops along with an 80t crane for lifting operations, and a 120kV general step-down substation.

Contractors involved

Fifteenth Metallurgical Foreign Company was contracted for the main construction works of the Pumpi copper-cobalt mine project.

Wanbao Mineral Lamika Company signed a general contract with China Railway Construction Company for the production and supply phase of the project in July 2020.

SUPCON Engineering was contracted for the installation and debugging of transmitter products, as well as the supply of field instruments for the copper-cobalt mine development.

Wanbao Minerals Company engaged China Enfi Engineering and Technology Company for the feasibility study and the preliminary engineering design of the Pumpi copper-cobalt mine development signed in July 2017.The design scope included mining, beneficiation, hydrometallurgy, acid production, tailings and auxiliary production facilities of the project.

China Railway Seventh Bureau Overseas Company was engaged for the production activities at the Pumpi project.