Rains impact on mines

SENTINEL MINE At the Sentinel mine, First Quantum will commission an additional Liebherr T284 mining truck, followed by two more in the second half of 2023

KANSANSHI MINE Mining fleet deployment changes at the Kansanshi mine over the past six months have enabled the operation to open up mining areas, placing less reliance on variable grade ore stockpiles

19th May 2023


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Canada-based copper miner First Quantum Minerals reports that its Zambian operations, including the Kansanshi copper/gold mine, openpit Sentinel copper mine and the Enterprise nickel project, were impacted on by seasonal rainfall.

CEO Tristan Pascall says the first quarter of this year was difficult, with production impacted at the miner’s three largest operations, but that the rainy season is currently nearing an end.

First Quantum also has operations in Panama, Mauritania, Spain, Finland, Turkey and Australia, as well as development projects in Zambia, Peru and Argentina.

He adds that the company is focused on improving operational performance and expects production to recover over the course of the year, particularly in the second half.

This year, First Quantum forecasts total copper production to range between 770 000 t and 840 000 t.

The first quarter financial results were impacted by lower sales volumes as a result of lower production. However, it was partially mitigated by lower input costs and stronger realised copper and gold prices.

Further, while market rates for fuel and freight were, on average, lower in the first quarter of 2023, these benefits were more than offset by lower production levels.

Kansanshi Highlights
Compared to the previous quarter, Kansanshi experienced lower copper production in the first quarter of this year owing to the seasonal impact of the rainy season as well as lower feed grades.

Variability of grades in ore stockpiles and lower grades from narrow-veined regions were the main drivers behind the lower grades. Production at Kansanshi this year is expected to range between 130 000 t and 150 000 t of copper, while gold production is expected to range between 95 000 oz and 105 000 oz.

Mining fleet deployment changes over the past six months have enabled the operation to open up mining areas, placing less reliance on variable grade ore stockpiles, as well as mining cutbacks M15 and M17 at upper elevations in the main pit with historically higher grades, which will benefit production through the rest of 2023.

In addition, an extensive drilling campaign is ongoing in areas associated with vein mineralisation, prior to mining.

Sentinel Highlights
First Quantum reports that its Sentinel mine experienced lower copper production in the first quarter, with 36 232 t produced, which was 37 177 t lower than the previous quarter also owing to the intense rainy season.

Saturated ground conditions significantly impacted on mining rates owing to poor road conditions and water in the pit prevented access to working faces.

Nonetheless, the miner forecasts that despite challenges encountered during the first quarter, its copper production from Sentinel this year is expected to range between 260 000 t and 280 000 t, as higher feed grades are expected in the second half of the year, with grades showing improvement already in April.

Further, Sentinel’s mine plan has been rescheduled with total volumes remaining substantively the same and higher grade zones being dispatched across the remaining three quarters of the year.

This is to be complemented by a change in location of the in-pit ramps to liberate high-grade ore by mining the saddle zones between the Stage 1 and Stage 2 areas of the mine.

There will also be a redistribution of loading equipment to better suit working areas and truck fleet capacity is planned to increase in the second quarter with the commissioning of an additional Liebherr T284 mining truck, followed by two more in the second half of the year.

Brownfield Projects
First Quantum reports that the detail design of the S3 Expansion project at the Kansanshi mine is also progressing well, with long-lead time mining fleet and process plant equipment having been ordered. Deliveries will start in the second half of the year.

Overall project procurement is about 25% committed as at the end of the first quarter, while the majority of the capital spend on the S3 Expansion is expected in late-2023 and into 2024.

Meanwhile, the miner reports that first ore through the Enterprise nickel plant was achieved on schedule in February, while plant refurbishment, completion and commissioning activities were also completed on schedule.

First production of nickel is expected in the second quarter of 2023 with a subsequent increase to commercial production, which will continue over the course of this year.

An increase to full plant throughput is expected in 2024, while production guidance this year for Enterprise is expected to range between 5 000 t and 10 000 t of material containing nickel.

Edited by Donna Slater
Creamer Media Chief Photographer and Senior Contributing Editor



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