Sentinel Kalumbila mine aim to start production in 2013

First Quantum Minerals Limited forecasts to produce 300,000 tons of copper by the end of this year at its ‘Greenfield’ Sentinel Kalumbila mine by the end of this year, a mine official says.

The Sentinel mine, part of the US$2 billion Trident project located west of Solwezi in North-Western Province, comprises a copper and a nickel mine development, initially planned to take off by 2015, the Zambia Daily Mail reports citing First Quantum Minerals President Clive Newall.

Newall said with the looming drop in copper production, the mining company would continue to explore more mining opportunities not only in Zambia but also in other parts of the world.  Copper remains the company’s favourite long-term commodity and that projects like the Sentinel are important to the company’s expansion and future growth, he adds.

The Sentinel mine has a lifespan of about 15 years but there is potential to increase future drilling and exploration. Sentinel’s processing facility will have a target rate of 55 million tons per annum of ore at an average grade of 0.5 percent copper.

The Vancouver-based and listed miner is seeking non-producing assets at the development stage. Higher grades are expected from the Sentinel copper project in the first six years of the mine’s life, which would provide an annual production rate ranging between 270,000 tones and 300,000 tons of ore, the Daily Mail adds citing Newall.

First Quantum is seeking projects that will allow it to return more than 30 percent average value to shareholders, which it has done since listing in 2000.

“If that can be achieved through further acquisitions, then of course we are interested, but we are certainly not just going to do acquisitions to get bigger. We continue to look for opportunities, but the bar is set very high. There have to be the very best projects out there,” Newall is further cited as saying.

Trident Kalumbila mine was obtained through the acquisition of Kiwara Plc in February 2010. The board of directors’ approval for the development of Sentinel was granted in May 2012.

The Trident project lies approximately 140 kilometres west of the town of Solwezi and 150 kilometres from the Company’s Kansanshi mine in Northern Zambia. It comprises the Sentinel copper deposit and the Enterprise and Intrepid targets.

The project was acquired by First Quantum in January 2010 through the purchase of Kiwara PLC for approximately $279 million, the mine said on its website.

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