The Cobre Panama mine has achieved commercial production – one month earlier than previously expected, Canadian miner First Quantum reported on Tuesday.
The new copper mine, located in the Colón province of Panama, achieved commercial production on September 1.
First Quantum said that Cobre was on track to produce between 140 000 oz and 175 000 oz this year. By the end of September, the mine produced 87 142 t of copper in concentrate, of which 19 438 t were deemed commercial.
The copper concentrator has three milling trains operational, comprising seven operating mills, and an eighth mill will be operational in the fourth quarter.
The mining company said that throughput was expected to be running at an annualised rate of about 72-million tonnes a year by the end of 2019, increasing to 85-million tonnes a year during 2020 after the eighth mill is fully ramped up.
By 2022, when fully ramped up, Cobre Panama’s C1 costs were forecast to be $1.20/lb and all-in sustaining costs $1.50/lb.
In 2023, throughput was expected to reach 100-million tonnes a year, through upgrades to the mobile fleet and equipment, resulting in copper production of more than 350 000 t/y. The company previously said that an expansion to 100-million tonnes a year would require a $327-million expansion.
Cobre Panama is expected to generate significant free cash flow over its 36-year mine life.