First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

May 23, 2010 23:55 ET

First Quantum Provides Update on Sodimico Proceedings

Conference Call on Monday May 24, 2010

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 23, 2010) - First Quantum Minerals Ltd. ("First Quantum" or the "Company") (TSX:FM)(LSE:FQM) announces that on May 21, 2010 the Company's subsidiaries Comisa SPRL and Frontier SPRL, which operate the Lonshi and Frontier copper mines respectively, received notification of a decision of the Democratic Republic of Congo ("RDC") Supreme Court of Justice with respect to a case introduced by the state owned mining company, Societe de Developpement Industriel et Minier du Congo ("SODIMICO"). This case was brought by SODIMICO against its own shareholder, the RDC, requesting the annulment of a letter of a former RDC Minister of Mines of February 5, 2000 pursuant to which the RDC allegedly withdrew exploration rights belonging to SODIMICO. As a consequence, SODIMICO requested its rights be reinstated on the "exclusive exploration zones" which SODIMICO previously held and which were allegedly converted into a number of exploration and exploitation licences now held by Frontier and Comisa. Comisa and Frontier were named in the proceedings and therefore lodged submissions on April 5, 2010. The main defendant, the RDC, never defended the proceedings.

A hearing was held on May 14, 2010. Neither the Company nor Frontier or Comisa were notified of the hearing. The Supreme Court rejected all arguments submitted by Frontier and Comisa and canceled the Minister of Mines February 5, 2000 letter and "rehabilitated (SODIMICO) in its (mining) rights and titles". The Supreme Court does not address what impact, if any, the rehabilitation has or will have on the valid and still existing mining licences held by Comisa and Frontier. To date, no direct action has been taken by the RDC authorities against either Frontier or Lonshi as a result of the Supreme Court decision and our operations continue.

"We are extremely concerned with the orchestrated attack on the Company's Frontier and Lonshi operations in the RDC in obvious retaliation for our commencement of international arbitration with respect to the illegal cancellation of our Kolwezi Project and our refusal to resolve this dispute by agreeing to submit to arrangements with unspecified third parties" said Philip Pascall, Chairman and CEO of First Quantum. "In addition to our $750 million investment in the Kolwezi Project, First Quantum has invested over $300 million at Frontier in reliance on mining licences granted under the World Bank sponsored Mining Code having obtained all necessary government approvals and permits. More that 1200 Congolese workers and contractors are currently employed at Frontier, with an additional 250 Congolese workers at Lonshi. In addition, both Frontier and Lonshi have contributed immensely to the local economy, social facilities and way of life. Frontier recently made a tax payment of $55 million, the largest ever made in the RDC. It is simply inconceivable that the well being of so many Congolese citizens and the largest source of revenue for the RDC, not to mention our valid mining rights, could be put at risk as a result of a dispute between the RDC and its own company almost a decade after the matter in dispute arose. Regrettably, as a result of the illegal cancellation of the Kolwezi Project over 750 Congolese workers have already lost their jobs and the RDC is now foregoing direct revenues of up to $150 to $300 million a year while the Kolwezi Project sits idle. We have no option but to vigorously pursue our rights to the Kolwezi Project through international arbitration and, if necessary, will do the same with respect to any actions taken against Frontier and Lonshi. We will also take all necessary legal measures to protect our mining rights and property and pursue damages against any third party interfering with our legal rights".

While the Company regrets the escalation of legal actions brought by RDC state entities against the Company in pursuit of unsubstantiated claims and questionable objectives, the Company remains open to seeking a negotiated solution to the Kolwezi Project dispute.

The Company will hold a conference call to discuss these developments. Further updates will be provided as warranted.

Conference call and webcast details are as follows:

Date: May 24, 2010
Time: 5:00 am (PST); 8:00 am (EST); Noon (GMT)
Dial in: 416-340-8018 / 866-223-7781 /(North America) /
800-6578-9898 (International)
Replay: 416-695-5800 / 800-408-3053 (North America)
Replay Passcode: 7404435

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 web site at

Certain information contained in this news release constitutes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and forward-looking information under applicable Canadian securities legislation. Such forward-looking statements or information, including but not limited to those with respect to the prices of gold, copper, cobalt and sulphuric acid, estimated future production, estimated costs of future production, the Company's hedging policy and permitting time lines, involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information. Such factors include, among others, the actual prices of copper, gold, cobalt and sulphuric acid, the factual results of current exploration, development and mining activities, changes in project parameters as plans continue to be evaluated, as well as those factors disclosed in the Company's documents filed from time to time with the Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario Securities Commissions, the Autorite des marches financiers in Quebec, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the London Stock Exchange.

Contact Information

  • First Quantum Minerals Ltd. - North American contact:
    Sharon Loung
    (647) 346-3934 or Toll Free: 1 (888) 688-6577
    (604) 688-3818 (FAX)
    First Quantum Minerals Ltd. - United Kingdom contact:
    Clive Newall
    +44 140 327 3484
    +44 140 327 3494 (FAX)
    Hogarth Partnership Ltd.
    Simon Hockridge
    +44 (0) 20 7357 9477