First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

November 03, 2011 08:50 ET

First Quantum Minerals Provides an Update on its Nickel Assets

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 3, 2011) - First Quantum Minerals Ltd. ("First Quantum" or the "Company") (TSX:FM)(LSE:FQM) is pleased to provide the following update on its nickel assets in Australia, Finland and Zambia.


  • The Company's advanced nickel projects, Ravensthorpe and Kevitsa, are scheduled to be in commercial operation in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Together, these projects are expected to produce approximately 49,000 tonnes of nickel annually, which would place First Quantum among the top 10 nickel producers in the world.
  • Ravensthorpe project, Australia:
    • The plant is performing well and ramping up as planned towards commercial operations before the end of 2011.
    • First production of nickel contained in mixed hydroxide ("MHP") was achieved on October 4, 2011.
    • Re-constructed plants consistently achieving design throughputs.
    • Both Atmospheric Leach and Pressure Acid Leach plants have been successfully brought on line.
    • A short video showing commissioning activities is available for viewing on
  • Kevitsa project, Finland:
    • The project is over 90% complete and on schedule to begin pre-commissioning in December 2011.
    • Commercial operation is expected to start in mid 2012.
    • Approvals are being sought to increase the initial annual throughput capacity by 50% to 7.5 million tonnes.
    • The ongoing extensive resource drill program continues to deliver encouraging results.
  • Enterprise target, Zambia:
    • Eight rigs are currently on site in a focused drill program.
    • To date, 140 holes for 49,750 metres have been completed to an average depth of about 350 metres, over an area of approximately 2.2 kilometres by 1 kilometre.
    • Strong, thick intercepts of 2% to 3% nickel have been reported from the centre of the target; peripheral holes are generally thinner reporting intercepts of 0.5% to 1% nickel.
    • An area covering 950 metres by 600 metres containing strong intercepts has been defined. This mineralized area is open to the south west.
    • In anticipation of the establishment of a substantial nickel resource at Enterprise, the neighbouring Sentinel copper concentrator is being designed to incorporate a nickel concentrator facility with a capacity of between 40,000 and 70,000 tonnes of nickel per year.

Ravensthorpe Nickel Project

Located in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, approximately 550 kilometres southeast of Perth, the project's three nickel-laterite deposits are estimated to contain sufficient reserves and resources to support a mine life of more than 30 years. When the mine is in commercial operations, it is expected to produce annually 39,000 tonnes of nickel for the initial five years and 28,000 tonnes over the life of the mine.

The phased commissioning of the project began in the first quarter of 2011 with the re-commissioning of existing elements. Commissioning of the new elements began in the second quarter with first ore feed into the crushing plant achieved in June. The reconstructed crushing plants are performing to expectations and are consistently achieving the design throughputs.

In addition, the ore stockpiles have been filled, both beneficiation plants re-commissioned and product from the beneficiation plant has been successfully handled by a newly-installed dewatering plant producing a reject product which can be readily conveyed and trucked. The achievements confirm that the problem areas, identified prior to the acquisition of the project, within the crushing, beneficiation and rejects plants have been successfully addressed.

The Atmospheric Leach (AL) plant was commissioned in September and operated at an average of over 90% of design during October. Both Pressure Acid Leach (PAL) trains were also successfully brought on line during October and have operated at up to 70% of design during their start up campaigns which are, by necessity, shortened for routine precautionary inspections. Ramp up of the AL and PAL will continue and it is expected that commercial operations will start before the end of the year.

Kevitsa Nickel-Copper-Precious Group Elements ("PGE") Project

Kevitsa is located approximately 142 kilometres north-northeast of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. The project's estimated measured and indicated resources of 240 million tonnes grading 0.30% nickel; 0.28% nickel sulphide; 0.41% copper is sufficient to support a mine life of over 30 years at a treatment rate of 5 million tonnes per year. At this rate, Kevitsa is expected to produce annually 10,000 tonnes of nickel and 20,000 tonnes of copper.

The current project development is nearing completion with field construction activities 90% complete and pre- commissioning planned to commence in December. Commercial operation is expected to start in mid 2012. Recruitment of operations personnel is ongoing with all managerial positions filled.

Approvals are being actively pursued through the relevant authorities to increase the throughput rate to 7.5 million tonnes per year. With the current estimated measured and indicated resources, this increased rate is expected to lift the annual production to approximately 15,000 tonnes of nickel and 28,000 to 30,000 tonnes copper while preserving a mine life in excess of 20 years.

Recent near-mine exploration activities have been focused on geophysical targets on the fringe of the Kevitsa resource. A new zone of Kevitsa-style mineralization has been identified and while it is unclear if this joins up with the main resource, it is possible that this area will provide incremental tonnage to the mine model.

Several other high priority targets have been identified and are scheduled to be drilled once ground conditions permit.

Enterprise Nickel Target

Enterprise is part of the Trident project which includes the Sentinel copper deposit, currently under development. The project is located approximately 150 kilometres from Solwezi in north-west Zambia. In April 2011, large-scale mining licenses for the development of the Trident project were received from the Government of the Republic of Zambia. The licenses give First Quantum the exclusive rights to carry out mining operations on the full area of interest at Trident for a period of 25 years.

Eight drills are currently testing the Enterprise nickel target in a focused program that commenced in the fourth quarter of 2010. To date, 140 holes for 49,750 metres have been completed to an average depth of about 350 metres, over an area of approximately 2.2 kilometres by 1 kilometre. Drilling is largely completed on 100-metre spaced sections through the centre of the area and mineralization has been intercepted on most sections. Strong, thick intercepts of 2% to 3% nickel have been reported from the centre of the target while peripheral holes are generally thinner reporting intercepts of 0.5% to 1% nickel. An area covering 950 metres by 600 metres containing strong intercepts has been defined. This mineralized area is open to the south west.

Ground geophysical surveys have demonstrated a strong conductive anomaly coincident with the high grade sulphide mineralization and this method will provide a useful prospecting tool for further mineralization in the area. Two wide diameter metallurgical holes have been completed and 1.5 tonnes of mineralized material recovered and readied for shipping to a test laboratory in Australia.

In anticipation of the establishment of a substantial resource at Enterprise, the design of the neighbouring Sentinel copper concentrator is being modified to incorporate a nickel concentration facility with the capacity to produce between 40,000 and 70,000 tonnes of nickel per year. As the Enterprise mineralised body is located only 12 kilometres from Sentinel, its development costs would further benefit by sharing infrastructure such as water supply, tailings storage facility, housing and administration.

A NI-43-101 compliant resource is anticipated in 2012.

Note: To view Map 1 associated with this release, please click the following link:

Please note that the potential quantity and grades mentioned in relation to the Enterprise target are conceptual in nature. There has been insufficient exploration to define a mineral resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the target being delineated as a mineral resource and whether it will be developed into a mine.

On Behalf of the Board of Directors of First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

G. Clive Newall, President


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Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements and information herein, including all statements that are not historical facts, contain forward-looking statements and forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. These forward-looking statements, principally included in the Development activities section, but also disclosed in other sections of the document. The forward looking statements include estimates, forecasts and statements as to the Company's expectations of production and sales volumes, expected timing of completion of project development at Ravensthorpe, Kevitsa and Sentinel, the timing of commercial production at Ravensthorpe and Kevitsa, the ability of the reserves at Enterprise to support a nickel operation, the impact of ore grades on future production, the potential of production disruptions, capital expenditure and mine production costs, the outcome of mine permitting, the outcome of legal proceedings which involve the Company in the RDC and other countries, information with respect to the future price of copper, gold, cobalt, nickel, PGE, and sulphuric acid, estimated mineral reserves and mineral resources, our exploration and development program, estimated future expenses, exploration and development capital requirements, the Company's hedging policy, and our goals and strategies. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements or information can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate" or "believes" or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved.

With respect to forward-looking statements and information contained herein, we have made numerous assumptions including among other things, assumptions about the price of copper, gold, nickel, PGE, cobalt and sulphuric acid, anticipated costs and expenditures and our ability to achieve our goals. Although our management believes that the assumptions made and the expectations represented by such statements or information are reasonable, there can be no assurance that a forward-looking statement or information herein will prove to be accurate. Forward-looking statements and information by their nature are based on assumptions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause our actual results, performance or achievements, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information. These factors include, but are not limited to, future production volumes and costs, costs for inputs such as oil, power and sulphur, political stability in Zambia, Peru, Mauritania, Finland and Australia, adverse weather conditions in Zambia, Finland and Mauritania labour disruptions, mechanical failures, water supply, procurement and delivery of parts and supplies to the operations, the production of off-spec material.

See our annual information form for additional information on risks, uncertainties and other factors relating to the forward-looking statements and information. Although we have attempted to identify factors that would cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those disclosed in the forward-looking statements or information, there may be other factors that cause actual results, performances, achievements or events not to be anticipated, estimated or intended. Also, many of these factors are beyond our control. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements or information. We undertake no obligation to reissue or update forward-looking statements or information as a result of new information or events after the date hereof except as may be required by law. All forward-looking statements and information made herein are qualified by this cautionary statement.

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