TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines has announced the appointment of Mark Farren, formerly Ivanhoe’s Executive Vice President for Operations, as CEO of the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Joint Venture.

In two concurrent moves to further enhance Ivanhoe’s development and operating capabilities, the company said that Louis Watum, Ivanhoe’s DRC country manager, has been appointed President of the Board of Directors of Kamoa Copper SA.

This is the DRC operating company of the joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines, Zijin Mining Group, Crystal River and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo that is developing the Kamoa-Kakula project. Watum’s expanded role includes assisting with infrastructure development.

South African mining veteran Warwick Morley-Jepson has been appointed as Ivanhoe’s new COO, assuming the duties formerly held by Farren.

“Louis, Mark and Warwick all have extensive experience in the development, construction and operation of underground mines in the region, and we have the utmost confidence in their abilities to assemble and lead the joint-venture team that will construct and operate the stage-one, six million-tonne-per-annum Kakula Copper Mine, while also advancing development efforts at our Kipushi and Platreef projects and fast-tracking exploration drilling on our 100%-owned Western Foreland licences,” said founder Robert Friedland.

Drilling at the Makoko Discovery on the Western Foreland licences .

Joining Farren on Kamoa-Kakula’s new executive management team will be Dr. Yong Chen of Zijin Mining, as COO. Yong has more than 25 years’ management experience in mining operations, including his most recent role as director and GM of Xinjiang Ashele Copper, a large-scale underground mining and processing complex majority owned by Zijin Mining.

“The executive management team will work closely with Watum and senior Congolese management, our government partners and our host communities to help ensure that the Kakula Mine is built on time and budget, and to the best international standards,” added Friedland.

The structure of the team, he added, reflects the strong degree of cooperation between the joint-venture parties. “We are confident that the individual expertise and leadership qualities of each member of this executive team will help ensure a successful start-up of operations at Kakula.”

“This is an important stage of growth for Ivanhoe Mines, and I am honoured to lead the development of the tier-one Kamoa-Kakula Project at such an exciting time,” said Farren. “We are uniquely positioned to build Kakula into one of the world’s greatest copper mines, and I am excited to be part of the team that moves this project forward to production.”

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper senior management team also includes Congolese nationals Ben Munanga – Head of Energy; Teddy Kabongo – Head of Tax; and Dr. Guy Muswil – Head of Sustainability; as well as Rochelle De Villiers of Ivanhoe Mines and David Li of Zijin Mining have been appointed as Kamoa-Kakula’s Co-Chief Financial Officers.

A drill rig operating at the Kamoa North Bonanza Zone.

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the DRC government (20%). Ivanhoe Mines and Zijin Mining are co-funding development of the project. Initial copper concentrate production from the Kakula Mine, the first of at least three mines planned at Kamoa-Kakula, currently is scheduled for the third quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, the company has appointed Warwick Morley-Jepson as its new Executive Vice President and COO. Morley-Jepson is a seasoned mining professional who will assume the duties previously performed by Farren. He will be responsible for overseeing the technical and development initiatives that Ivanhoe currently is pursuing at the Kipushi and Platreef projects. He also will be a key member of the Ivanhoe team working with Zijin Mining to oversee the development of the Kamoa-Kakula Project.

Zijin will increase its shareholding in Ivanhoe Mines to 13.88% in a private share purchase and sale transaction with CITIC Metal Africa and Robert Friedland.

In a related move that follows the implementation of Kamoa-Kakula’s new executive management team and which reflects the efforts and importance of Zijin Mining in the ongoing development of Kamoa-Kakula as well as the spirit of genuine strategic cooperation among Ivanhoe Mines’ largest shareholders, CITIC Metal Africa and Robert Friedland have agreed to sell 35,752,011 shares (3.0%) and 12,900,271 shares (1.08%) of their shareholdings, respectively, to Zijin, in a private share purchase and sale transaction.

The company said that after the closing of the transaction, CITIC Metal Africa will own approximately 26.4% of Ivanhoe’s issued and outstanding shares, Robert Friedland will own approximately 13.2%, and Zijin will own 13.88%. The price per share will be fixed on the day prior to completion of the transaction at the prevailing one-day volume weighted average price at that time, but with a floor price of C$3.98 – the price of the recently completed second strategic investment by CITIC Metal in Ivanhoe Mines.

“This rebalancing share purchase and sale agreement once again proves the high level of trust and strategic cooperation between Ivanhoe Mines, CITIC Metal and Zijin Mining,” said Friedland.

At the closing of the transaction, Zijin and Ivanhoe Mines will enter into an investor rights agreement that will, among other things, confirm Zijin’s entitlement to one director, currently its Chairman Chen Jinghe who was elected to the board at Ivanhoe’s AGM held earlier this year.

Zijin’s existing standstill agreement also will be amended to increase Zijin’s maximum allowable shareholding in Ivanhoe Mines to 13.88% from 9.9% without Ivanhoe board approval. Zijin Mining also will enter into the same reciprocal lock-up arrangements that currently exist between CITIC Metal and Robert Friedland under which each grants the others reciprocal disposition and tag-along rights in the event of certain proposed sales of shares in the future.

The existing standstill agreements for CITIC Metal and Friedland are unaffected by the rebalancing transaction, and each continues to be restricted from acquiring more than 29.9% and 19.9% of the Ivanhoe Mines’ common shares, respectively, until January 8, 2023.

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