Ivanhoe Mines has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC’s) national railway company Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo (SNCC), to rebuild a 34 km of rail track that connects the Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/germanium mine with Munama, south of Lubumbashi.
Per the terms of the MoU with DRC State-owned railway company Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo, Ivanhoe will start construction of the line late in 2018.
The mining company will also appoint consultants to undertake a front-end engineering design study to assess the scope and cost of rebuilding the spur line from the historic Kipushi mine to the main Lubumbashi–Sakania railway at Munama.
The revival of the inactive Kipushi–Munama branch line, which had been out of commission since 2011, was the most economical and reliable solution for the transportation of Kipushi’s projected 530 000 t/y of zinc concentrate production, according to Ivanhoe’s Executive Chairperson, Robert Friedland.
“A daily train from Kipushi will replace the equivalent of 50 road trucks, resulting in the significant safety and environmental benefits to the DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa; reduced road and border congestion; and decreased air pollution,” he added.
The World Bank is overseeing and financing the rehabilitation and upgrade of large sections of the main DRC national railway between Lubumbashi and the Zambia border crossing at Sakania.
Ivanhoe is aiming to bring about a “new era of production” at Kipushi, with a current mine redevelopment plan envisaging a two-year construction period with a quick ramp-up to a steady-state production.