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Expansion on track at Zambian project, First Quantum says

17th January 2024

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online

     

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As part of its 2023 preliminary production and 2024 to 2026 guidance, published this week, TSX-listed First Quantum Minerals has reiterated its commitment to delivering the S3 Expansion project at the Kansanshi mine, near Solwezi, in Zambia.

The announcement was made as part of a stock market announcement providing guidance on recent and future production across the company’s operations.

First Quantum in May 2022 reinforced its commitment to Zambia by investing $1.25-billion in the Kansanshi mine.

Known as the S3 Expansion, this investment expands the pit and the mining fleet that services it.

To handle the increased volumes of ore that will be mined, the expansion includes a new processing plant as well as a $115-million investment to enlarge Kansanshi’s smelter, highlighted to advance the national objective of adding value to minerals inside Zambia.

The entire project is expected to be completed in mid-2025, returning the mine to its former peak production levels and extending the life of Kansanshi until the 2040s.

It will also add about 800 permanent jobs, and a further 1 800 during the construction phase.

Also announced in 2022 was First Quantum’s commitment to complete the Enterprise nickel mine, near Kalumbila, in North-Western province.

This mine is now operational, with production having started last year.

Once in full commercial production, the Enterprise mine will be a top-ten global nickel mine, producing about 30 000 t/y of nickel in concentrate, employing around 700 full-time staff and making Zambia Africa’s pre-eminent nickel producer, First Quantum posits.

Moreover, it says that Enterprise will produce ‘green’ nickel with a low carbon footprint, following the signing of a 100% renewable power supply agreement with State power utility Zesco in November.

First Quantum informs that it is also set to build on its history of infrastructure development in Zambia, through collaborating with other investors on a range of private sector-led renewable energy initiatives, and working with Zesco to integrate these projects into the Zambian power grid.

Among the initiatives under consideration is a TotalEnergies-led solar and wind renewable energy project, indicated to be worth more than $500-million, which is currently at an advanced stage of planning.

The project, tentatively scheduled for commissioning in 2027, would significantly bolster Zambia's energy capacity, contributing more than 400 MW to the national grid – some 15% of current national capacity, First Quantum avers.

The company mentions that it is also committed to the successful development of the Kalumbila Multi-Facility Economic Zone, which received government approval in September 2022.

It is actively incentivising its suppliers to establish manufacturing facilities within the zone with the aim of creating a local mining supply economy, and driving jobs and opportunities to the area.

Commenting on the 2024 to 2026 guidance announcement, COO Rudi Badenhorst emphasised that the company’s Zambia operations were “at the heart” of its future plans.

“We are proud of our near three-decade history in Zambia, and we look forward to a bright future ahead. Enterprise will play an important role in supplying the critical minerals that the world requires in increasing volumes as it seeks to transition to a decarbonised economy.  

“At a local level it will, together with the Sentinel copper mine, establish Kalumbila as a multi-mineral mining hub, with an economic zone to support its development. We are also restating our commitment to delivering the Kansanshi S3 Expansion, which we expect to be completed by mid-2025,” he highlighted.

“With Kansanshi and the Trident operations firing, North-Western province is well placed to benefit in terms of livelihoods, business opportunities, and from our many social development and environmental initiatives well beyond the next decade,” he added. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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