Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) announced on Tuesday that geologists made a significant high-grade copper discovery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) similar to the massive orebody it is mining at the Kamoa-Kakula copper complex.
The discovery, named Kitoko — meaning “beautiful” or “gift” in several local languages — was made on Ivanhoe’s recently acquired joint venture licences in the Western Foreland, about 25 km west of the ultra-high-grade to Kamoa-Kakula mine.
Selected drill results from Kitoko include 3.37 metres of 3.54% copper, 6.43 metres of 4.92% copper, 4.2 metres of 3.6% copper and 6.8 metres of 3.35% copper. All intervals are true widths, with a copper cut-off of 1.0%.
Ivanhoe founder and executive co-chair Robert Friedland said in a news release Tuesday that the high-grade copper mineralization found at Kitoko is very similar to the massive tier-one Kakula orebody, now discovered in the deeper parts of the Western Foreland basin that remains completely unexplored.
“Ivanhoe’s latest high-grade discovery of Kitoko confirms the effectiveness of our exploration model for identifying tier-one copper mineralization across the Western Foreland. Our proprietary knowledge is the result of over 20 years of in-depth geological research in this previously unexplored terrain,” Friedland said in the statement.
Kitoko lies inside a package of new exploration licences within the Western Foreland area, where Ivanhoe holds a land position of 2,654 sq. km.
Makoko and Kiala are two distinct discoveries adjacent to the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex and continue Ivanhoe’s track record of making greenfield discoveries in this uniquely endowed geological terrain, the company said.
Like the Kamoa, Kakula, Makoko and Kiala deposits, the Kitoko discovery represents a fine-grained copper mineralization hosted in near flat-lying siltstone of the lower Grand Conglomerate diamictite. Also like these deposits, the Kitoko mineralization is bottom-loaded with the highest copper grades occurring at the base of the mineralized zone.
According to Ivanhoe, the currently defined mineralized zone at Kitoko is trending southwest over 1.9 km of strike, with a dip extent of between 600 metres and mineralization remains open in all directions. The mineralized system is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,140 metres below surface.
Similar discovery to Kakula
Ivanhoe first began exploration activities on the Western Foreland area in July 2017. Initially, activities were focused on the construction of access roads, bridges and the development of new camp facilities. In parallel, the company undertook airborne and ground-based geophysical surveys and revisited previously acquired geophysical and geochemical data sets.
Targets, and subsequent discoveries, were identified first based on analysis of geological models from the airborne and ground geophysics, as well as surface and sub-surface geochemical sampling, and were ultimately confirmed by diamond drilling.
By the end of this year, the company expects to have completed more than 166,000 metres in total of diamond drilling, including 36,000 metres completed in 2023.
Drilling is continuing at Kitoko to define the extent of mineralization. When that is confirmed, Ivanhoe said it will begin infill resource drilling. Exploration will also continue to test other targets in conjunction with the continued drilling of Kitoko in 2024 and beyond.
“This year’s drilling success proves that our geological team has the ability to unearth further major copper discoveries across the Western Foreland. We are fortunate to control such a large exploration land package with tier-one potential, in the identical geological domain as the Kamoa-Kakula copper complex, the world’s greenest and fastest-growing major copper mining complex,” Friedland said.
Earlier this month, Ivanhoe announced the inaugural mineral resource estimates for the Makoko and Kiala deposits, also within its Western Foreland exploration project. The Kitoko discovery is within 5 km of the Makoko deposit.
Shares of Ivanhoe Mines rose 2.3% at the end of Tuesday’s trading session, for a market capitalization of C$13.5 billion ($10 billion).