First Quantum updates on Zambian copper and nickel projects

Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (FQM) is expecting to complete a major ramp-up in final construction and commissioning activity over the next six months as it moves to bring on line nearly US$3 billion worth of new copper and nickel projects in Zambia.  Africa remains significant in the company’s growth plans despite earlier setbacks in the DRC which saw it lose its Frontier and Kolwezi projects in a dispute with that country’s government.

First Quantum currently operates seven mines on four continents – Kansanshi (80%-owned) producing copper in Zambia, Guelb Moghrein (100%) copper/gold in Mauritania, Las Cruces (100%) copper in Spain, Kevitsa (100%) nickel/copper and Pyhäsalmi (100%) copper/zinc in Finland, Ravensthorpe (100%) nickel/cobalt in Australia and Çayeli (100%) copper/zinc in Turkey.

It also has a number of major development projects – the Kansanshi copper smelter in Zambia the Sentinel copper mine in Zambia, the Enterprise nickel project (Zambia), the huge Cobre Panama project (copper/gold/silver/molybdenum in Panama) and Haquira (copper in Peru).

The Cayeli, Las Cruces and Pyhasalmi mines and the Cobre Panama project (the main purpose of the acquisition)  came with the $5.1 billion hostile take-over of Inmet Mining in March last year.

FQM’s 2013 metal production amounted to 412,281 tonnes of copper, 47,066 tonnes of nickel, 248,078 ounces of gold, 49,933 tonnes of zinc and 55,042 ounces of platinum group metals. (These production figures only include around nine-months worth of output – post-takeover –  from the former Inmet mines).

With several of its above mentioned development projects due to come on stream over the next two years these will make FQM, already a very significant base and precious metals miner, into one of the world’s larger copper and nickel producers

In addressing the first day of the three day Paydirt 2014 Africa Down Under Conference, in Perth, Australia this week, the company’s Director Projects, Zenon Wozniak provided an update on its African developments, and specifically those in Zambia, one of the world’s top copper producing nations.  He said construction work on its new US$850 million Kansanshi copper smelter was now 88% complete.

Initial commissioning activities on the plant’s Phase 1 processing capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per annum had now commenced alongside final construction work

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