VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 12, 2012) - First Quantum Minerals Ltd. ("First Quantum" or the "Company") (TSX:FM)(LSE:FQM) is pleased to provide an update on the expansion of the sulphide treatment facilities at the Kansanshi mine and development of the Trident project including advances at the Enterprise nickel project and an increase to the throughput capacity at the Sentinel copper project. Board approval for the sulphide expansion project and the development of Enterprise was granted on the strength of the recently-announced uplift in Mineral Resources and Reserves estimates at Kansanshi and Enterprise.
- The Sulphide No 3 ("S3") treatment plant at Kansanshi is being designed with the capability to treat up to 25 million tonnes per annum ("Mtpa") of ore.
- This capacity is higher than the 14 - 16 Mtpa previously contemplated, is supported by the recently-announced increase in Mineral Resources and Reserves at Kansanshi, and is expected to deliver a mine life in excess of 16 years.
- Engineering design synergies with the Sentinel processing plant, currently in construction, are expected to provide significant schedule benefits enabling a efficient project ramp up and execution phase that will allow S3 to come on-line in 2015.
- The capital estimate for the construction of the S3 expansion is USD$565 million.
The Trident project
- The Enterprise project is being designed with the capacity to treat ore at a rate of 4.0 Mtpa at a processing facility that will be constructed as an integral part of the Sentinel copper mine, located 12 kilometres southeast of the mine.
- This will allow significant operational synergies and the sharing of infrastructure.
- Enterprise is being designed to produce an average of 38,000 tonnes of nickel in concentrate per annum with scope to increase to 60,000 tonnes when nickel market conditions allow.
- Board approval was also received for an increase in throughput capacity at Sentinel to 55 Mtpa from the 40 Mtpa previously envisioned.
- Altogether, these significant enhancements require a capital investment of USD$275 million which lifts the total approved capital estimate for the Trident project to USD$2.0 billion.
The increase in the mine's Mineral Resources and Reserves estimate provided the foundation for the operational and long term development strategies to be confirmed. The increase in sulphide treatment through the new S3 plant will allow up to 400,000 tonnes of copper to be produced annually. At this level of production and with the current defined Mineral Resources and Reserves, Kansanshi's mine life has been significantly increased to 16 years. On-going in-fill drilling could enable the identified Inferred Resources to be upgraded to the Indicated category, thereby further extending mine life.
The treatment plant will be constructed as a stand-alone facility and will draw on the detailed design work that has already been undertaken for the Sentinel sulphide concentrator. The S3 plant will be fed from two semi-mobile crushers that will be located within the existing pit limits of the Main and North West pits.
Concentrate produced from S3 will be pumped to the new smelter facility currently being constructed at Kansanshi for direct treatment.
The development of Enterprise brings a third nickel mine to First Quantum, and given the operational and infrastructure synergies with Sentinel is expected to be a low cost producing mine. The 4.0 Mtpa processing plant that will be built at the Sentinel facilities will consist of straight forward crushing, milling and flotation. The plant will be designed with the flexibility so that if nickel ore from the Enterprise is not being processed, it can be used to augment the Sentinel copper throughput capacity by approximately 4 Mtpa.
The increase in the throughput capacity at Sentinel to 55 Mtpa will be achieved by the addition of an expandable secondary crushing circuit as well as the upgrading of specific equipment within the processing plant. These enhancements will help ensure that targeted copper production objectives of 270,000 - 300,000 tonnes per annum of copper can be achieved. The current project timeline for completion in 2014 is unchanged.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors of First Quantum Minerals Ltd.
G. Clive Newall, President
Listed in Standard and Poor's
For further information visit our website at www.first-quantum.com
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. The forward looking statements include estimates, forecasts and statements as to the Company's mineral reserves and resources at Kansanshi and Enterprise, the Company's expectations of the results of future drilling, the Company's expectations of production and production cost and sales volumes, expected future production capacity, expect timing of completion of project development at Kansanshi, Sentinel and Enterprise, the impact of ore grades on future production, the potential of production disruptions, capital expenditure and mine production costs, the outcome of mine permitting, 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.