First Quantum in solid cash flow generation phase

16th February 2022 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Canada’s First Quantum Minerals on Tuesday reported strong year-end financial results, as its operations continue to demonstrate resilience in dealing with the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and new variants as they emerge.

The copper miner reported earnings of $832-million, or $1.21 a share, for the year ended December 31. This compares with a $180-million loss in 2020. Adjusted net earnings rose to $826-million, or $1.20 a share, from a loss of $46-million in the prior year.

Revenue surged from $5.07-billion in 2020 to $7.21-billion in 2021, as the realised copper price rose from $2.74/lb to $3.64/lb in the year.

Cash flows from operating activities doubled from $1.6-billion in 2020, to $2.9-billion in 2021.

“We are in a period of solid cash flow generation for the company and while debt reduction remains a priority, we are pleased to cautiously commence increased capital returns to our shareholders with our new dividend framework,” said chairperson and CEO Philip Pascall.

First Quantum in January announced a dividend policy that would comprise a performance divided so that 15% of cash flow generated after planned capital spending and distributions to noncontrolling interests were allocated to shareholder returns.

The minimum yearly base dividend is expected to be C$0.10 a share, comprising biannual dividends of C$0.05 a share.

The group has also set a new debt-reduction target, considering that the previously announced $2-billion target would be met in the first half of this year. The miner is now targeting a further reduction of $1-billion in the short to medium term.

First Quantum previously reported operational results for 2021, which included record copper output of 816 435 t. Through the advancement of its brownfield portfolio, the company is on a path to one-million tonnes of copper production.

The previously-announced three-year guidance was reaffirmed. First Quantum is targeting copper and nickel production of 850 000 t to 910 000 t, and 40 000 t to 50 000 t, respectively by 2024.

The capital cost guidance is $1.25-million in 2022 and 2023 and $1.375-million in 2024.