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First Quantum sees positive momentum continuing into H2

Production at the Kansanshi mine, in Zambia, will be at the  lower end of First Quantum's guidance range this year.

Production at the Kansanshi mine, in Zambia, will be at the lower end of First Quantum's guidance range this year.

26th July 2023

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

     

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After a challenging start to the year, First Quantum Minerals has made significant strides during the second quarter, witnessing notable improvements at its three major operations. This momentum has set the stage for the company to achieve its production targets for 2023, albeit landing at the lower end of its guidance range.

Total copper production for the second quarter was 187 175 t, an increase of 35% from the first quarter. The quarter-on-quarter increase in production was attributable to an improvement in grades at Cobre Panamá, in Panama, Kansanshi and Sentinel, in Zambia, and higher throughput at Cobre Panamá and Sentinel.

Copper C1 cash cost of $1.98/lb for the June quarter were $0.26 /lb lower than the March quarter, owing to improved production volumes and lower fuel and explosive costs.

“During the second quarter, Sentinel achieved its highest monthly production for the year in May and Cobre Panamá and Kansanshi achieved the same records in June,” commented CEO Tristan Pascall.

He stated that the company remained “well on track” for a stronger performance in the second half of the year.

First Quantum kept its guidance for copper, gold and nickel production unchanged, but cautioned that full-year output for each metal would be towards the lower end of guidance to reflect year-to-date production.

Cobre Panamá produced 90 086 t of copper in the quarter under review, an increase of 24 659 t from the previous quarter as the current quarter saw improved grades and higher tonnes milled from the continued successful ramp-up of the CP 100 Expansion project. The production guidance remains unchanged at 350 000 t to 380 000 t of copper and 140 000 oz to 160 000 oz of gold.

The ramp-up of the CP100 Expansion to 100-million tonnes a year remains scheduled for the end of 2023.

Kansanshi’s copper production of 34 657 t was 5 974 t higher than the previous quarter. Production is expected to be at the lower end of the guidance range of 130 000 t to 150 000 t of copper and 95 000 oz to 105 000 oz of gold. Mining fleet deployment changes over the past six months have enabled the operation to open up mining areas, placing less reliance on low-grade ore stockpiles.

Sentinel reported copper production of 54 045 t in the second quarter, up 17 813 t from the previous quarter as the operation saw steady improvement after the impact of record heavy rains experienced in the first quarter. First Quantum reported that mining activities continued to be impacted by excess water in the pit until mid-May when dewatering activities reduced water levels in the pit, allowing operations to regain access to higher-grade ore. As a result of the challenges encountered at the start of the year, copper production for 2023 is expected to be toward the lower end of guidance of 260 000 t to 280 000 t.

The company said it had deployed a drilling contractor alongside its own drill rigs to increase stocks of broken material at Sentinel.

At Enterprise, first production of nickel concentrate was achieved in the second quarter, with nameplate capacity of the process plant temporarily demonstrated during the second quarter, and first concentrate sales are expected in the third quarter of 2023. The ramp-up continues to commercial production and full plant throughput in 2024.

Oxide material is impacting recoveries of the plant and the ore profile has been updated to reflect the classification of material. 2023 production for Enterprise is expected to be at the lower end of guidance of 5 000 t to 10 000 t of contained nickel.

“While we expect the positive operational momentum to continue into the second half of the year, we are cognisant of the global economic slowdown. I believe that we are well-positioned to navigate through the near-term challenges with our focus on improving productivity and unit costs,” said Pascall.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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