Quadra FNX Mining Ltd.

Quadra FNX Mining Ltd.

May 15, 2011 10:29 ET

Quadra FNX Partners With Sumitomo & Announces Feasibility Study Results for Sierra Gorda Project, Chile

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 16, 2011) -

(all dollar amounts are in US dollars unless otherwise stated)

Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. ("Quadra FNX" or the "Company") (TSX:QUX) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a definitive agreement to form a Joint Venture ("JV") with Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation (collectively "Sumitomo") to develop the world-class Sierra Gorda copper–molybdenum project in Chile. Quadra FNX will retain a 55% interest in the JV. Concurrently, the Company is also pleased to announce the results of a positive feasibility study which confirms a robust, large-scale, low cost mine in a mining friendly jurisdiction. Board of Director's approval to proceed with the project has been given.


  • Quadra FNX and Sumitomo to form 55%/45% JV to develop the Sierra Gorda project in Chile, subject to normal anti-trust approval
  • Sumitomo to contribute the next $724 million of JV equity after closing
  • Sumitomo to arrange a minimum $1.0 billion project financing non-recourse to Quadra FNX or, if not available, to provide to the project an $800 million loan non-recourse to Quadra FNX
  • Quadra FNX plans to provide its proportional share of the remaining JV funding requirements estimated at ~ $650 million through cash on hand and debt. JP Morgan has been engaged to arrange corporate debt financing for the Company


  • Production from current sulphide reserves average: 483 M lbs of copper (Cu), 25 M lbs of molybdenum (Mo) and 64 kozs of gold (Au) per annum over a 20 year mine life. Mo production will be 54 M lbs per year during the first three years of operation
  • Expected life of mine cash cost of $1.15 per pound of Cu, with $0.56 per pound of Cu in the first five years (net of by-product credits)1
  • 20 year mine life based on current sulphide resources, with upside potential to process an additional 237 Mt of oxide resources
  • Initial throughput rate 110,000 tonnes per day ("tpd"), with expansion after three years to 190,000 tpd
  • Base Case1 after-tax NPV (8%) of $780 million; Spot Case2 after-tax NPV (8%) of $5.1 billion
  • Initial capital cost estimated at $2,877 million, with first production scheduled for 2014
  • Expansion capital of $818 million expected to be funded from project cash flow

1Assuming $2.50/lb Cu, $12/lb Mo and $1,000/oz Au 2 Assuming $4.00/lb Cu, $15/lb Mo and $1,200/oz Au

Mr. Paul Blythe, the President and CEO of Quadra FNX commented "The JV with Sumitomo and the development of Sierra Gorda will provide Quadra FNX with a large, long life, low cost copper project which will allow us to move past our strategic objective of 500 million pounds of annual copper production. We are proud to be able to announce a partnership with a world class organization like Sumitomo, which will bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and financial strength to the development and operation of the Sierra Gorda project. We now have the team and a financing structure in place which will allow us to bring the project into production. In addition, the project debt structure, non-recourse to Quadra FNX, leaves us with the flexibility to pursue other growth opportunities, including the recently announced Victoria project in Sudbury."


On May 14th, 2011 Quadra FNX and Sumitomo signed the Investment Agreement with respect to funding arrangements for the Sierra Gorda project. In addition, the parties have agreed to the terms of a JV, back-up financing, services and offtake agreements which are expected to close once all normal anti-trust approvals are in place but not later than December 31, 2011. A $360 million bridge facility from Sumitomo has also been agreed to cover costs subsequent to August 31, 2011. The Investment Agreement will govern the parties during the interim period.

The key terms of the arrangements:

  • Quadra FNX and Sumitomo to conduct activities through the existing holder of Sierra Gorda, Minera Quadra Chile Limitada ("MQCL"), which will be owned 55% by Quadra FNX and 45% by Sumitomo.
  • Quadra FNX will earn a service fee for operational and technical support over the life of mine. Sumitomo has the right and the obligation to purchase 50% of the copper concentrate and Quadra FNX has the right to direct the sale of the remaining 50%. The JV will manage the marketing of the molybdenum with oversight from a commercial committee.
  • Both shareholders will have normal course super majority rights, including a right of first refusal if one party wishes to dispose of its JV interest. The JV will have a right of first refusal on any new properties within 25 kilometers of the project. In the event of a change of control of Quadra FNX, Sumitomo will have the right to take over or appoint a different party to provide JV support services.
  • Quadra FNX retains the right to advance the development of the JV's oxide resources. However, Sumitomo has the right to participate through the JV.
  • Normal dilution provisions apply to the interests in the JV should either party fail to meet shareholder cash call obligations after commercial production. Penal dilution will apply during the construction phase.

Details of the JV financing structure:

Phase I – Construction of the project to 2014

The initial funding will match the funding schedule of the project over the period to 2014. The JV funding is structured as follows:

  • Upon closing, Sumitomo will pay a minimum of $360 million into the JV, with the remainder of the $724 million on an as needed basis for construction activities before Quadra FNX has to provide any further funds.
  • Sumitomo shall take the lead in efforts to arrange, and will guarantee, $1.0 billion in project financing for the JV, with no recourse to Quadra FNX. In the event, project financing is not satisfactorily arranged, then Sumitomo will provide a shareholder back-up loan for $800 million to the JV, with no recourse to Quadra FNX.
  • The remaining funding will be met by the shareholders of the JV in proportion to their interest. Sumitomo and Quadra FNX have fixed the Phase 1 budget including capital costs, working capital, interest during construction and costs already incurred, at $3.0 billion of which Quadra FNX's share going forward would be approximately $650 million assuming $1billion of project financing. JP Morgan has been engaged to arrange a corporate debt financing for the Company.
  • If closing has not taken place by August 1, 2011, then Quadra FNX may draw from Sumitomo a "bridge loan" at $90 million per month, for up to a total of $360 million. The loan is repayable on the earlier of twelve months after termination, or December 31, 2012 if closing anti-trust approvals is not received. The bridge loan would be secured against 45% of the shares of MQCL.

Phase II – Expansion of the project from 2014 to 2018

The capital for the expansion to 190,000 tpd is expected to cost $818 million over three years. It is projected to be funded entirely from project cash flow. However, if needed, any balance would be funded by cash calls to the respective partners.

Other expansions

The JV will be responsible for any further expansion projects approved by shareholders. Any such expansion would be funded first from project cash flows and then from cash calls to the respective partners.

Transaction History

Following the announcement of the National Instrument 43-101 Scoping Study on the Sierra Gorda project in July of 2009, Quadra FNX began its search for a suitable JV partner with the following objectives: certainty of the partner's funding plan to ensure sufficient capital was available to complete the project on time, an attractive value proposition, limited conditionality, and a high level of partner credibility. During this search, the Company engaged CIBC Capital Markets as financial advisor and Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP as legal advisors in the process.

Discussions with Sumitomo initially started in the fall of 2009 and recommenced in July 2010 following the announcement by the Company that it was ending its previously announced arrangements with State Grid International Development Limited. Quadra FNX has a pre-existing, long-term corporate relationship with Sumitomo, who is a primary customer for concentrates produced at the Robinson Mine in Nevada.

Sumitomo boasts a long history of over four centuries in mining and metal smelting. Significant copper mining partnerships include Morenci Copper Mine in Arizona, Cerro Verde Copper Mine in Peru, Candelaria Copper Mine and Ojos del Salado Copper Mine in Chile, Northparkes Copper Mine in Australia, and Batu Hijau Copper Mine in Indonesia. In addition Sumitomo solely owns and operates the Toyo Copper Smelter in Japan which has an annual production capacity of 450,000 metric tonnes of copper per year. Using their strong financial position, Sumitomo arranged project financing through Japan Export for International Corporation (formerly Export and Import Bank of Japan) for the Candelaria Copper Mine, the Cerro Verde Copper Mine, and the Batu Hijau Copper Mine.


The Sierra Gorda project has been designed as a conventional open pit operation, using drilling, blasting, loading with rope shovels, and truck haulage. The process plant has an initial planned throughput of 110,000 tpd using high-pressure grinding rolls crushing ("HPGRs"); ball milling and conventional flotation to produce both a copper and molybdenum concentrate. An expansion to a throughput of 190,000 tpd is planned for completion in Year 4 of operations.

The molybdenum head grades are highest during the first three years. The initial throughput rate was selected to constrain molybdenum production to levels that were judged to have limited impact on the global molybdenum market. Molybdenum production will be 54 million pounds per year during the first three years of operation. An expansion to a throughput of 190,000 tpd is planned for completion during the third year of operations, after which molybdenum production will average 20 million pounds per year for the balance of the mine life.

The bulk of the copper concentrates will be sent to the port of Mejillones, from which it will be shipped to global smelters. Molybdenum concentrate will be bagged on site for sale locally and overseas. Oxide mineralisation will be stockpiled separately for treatment in a possible future heap leach operation.

Life of Mine Plan

The mine plan is designed in six phases in order to reduce waste mining and manage ore grades and production starts in the Catalina Zone and progresses eastward. As mining progresses into the lower-grade areas, the focus changes to maximizing ore grade to the mill, which is accomplished by stockpiling lower-grade ore. Once the higher-grade 281 Zone is developed, waste mining drops off substantially and copper feed grades increase. In the last year and a half of mine life, production is derived from stockpile re-handling.

The waste dumps are set back approximately 500 metres from the pit rim to allow for pit expansion in the event of operating margin increases. The dumps have extra capacity to allow for possible expansion and include an oxide stockpile with sufficient capacity to hold oxide material for possible future processing.

A summary of the life of mine project parameters is outlined in the table below:

To view the table "Sierra Gorda Life of Mine Plan," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table01.pdf

Capital Costs

Initial capital costs for the Sierra Gorda project are estimated at $2,877 million, with an additional $818 million of capital required from 2015 to 2017 for the expansion from 110,000 tpd to 190,000 tpd. All costs are expressed in Q4 2010 U.S. dollars. The contingency added to the capital cost estimate reflects an 85% probability of completing the project within the amount estimated. Mine and plant sustaining capital is estimated to total $1,038 million (average approximately $52 million per year across the 20-year mine life.)

The summary breakdown of initial and expansion capital is as follows:

To view the table "Sierra Gorda Capital Cost Breakdown," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table02.pdf

Operating Costs

Life-of-mine operating costs for the Sierra Gorda project are expected to average $11.48 per tonne of ore processed. Life-of-mine mining costs are estimated at $1.07 per tonne of material mined. The operating unit cost estimates are summarized in the table below:

To view the table "Operating Cost Life–of-Mine Breakdown," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table03.pdf

To view the graph "Estimated Project Production and Cash Cost per Pound for Period 2014-2023," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table04.pdf

Key Milestones:


An Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") was submitted to the regulatory authorities in May 2010. The question and answer phases of the evaluation process are complete and permit approval is expected by the end of June, 2011.

Employment and Community Relations

At peak construction the Sierra Gorda project is expected to employ 6,000 workers. While in full production the operation is expected to employ approximately 2,000 full-time employees. The JV will be initiating its community engagement programs during project development.

Key Offsite Infrastructure Requirements

The key offsite infrastructure areas are: power supply, power transmission to plant site, concentrate transportation, concentrates loading at the port, and fresh and seawater supply. These services will be predominantly supplied through build, own, operate ("BOO") contracts with the exception of the seawater pipeline which is expected to be operated by the JV. Quadra FNX and Sumitomo will provide certain BOO contract guarantees when necessary.

Water: Except for specific areas, the process plant has been designed for seawater. Quadra FNX has contracted the services of BRASS Chile S.A. (BCSA) to develop the seawater delivery system from the coastal town of Mejillones to the mine site through a 140-km pipeline. The transport pipeline system was designed for the project life, with a maximum transport capacity of 1,200 L/s. Initially, 750 L/s of seawater will be pumped from Mejillones to the seven-day seawater pond located at the plant site. This capacity will be increased to 1,200 L/s for the expansion phase. The JV has 30 L/s of fresh water for site, which will be supplied by Ferro Carril Antofagasta Bolivia, S.A. for a 20-year contract. This water will arrive at site by means of a pipeline that runs alongside the rail to the Sierra Gorda mine site.

Power: The Company is currently finalizing a life-of-mine offtake Agreement with a local power provider who will construct a coal-fired power plant located in the port of Mejillones. The power for the Sierra Gorda project will be supplied by a 140 km overland power line that will provide 220 kV of power at 50 Hz to an on-site substation. During the construction (2012 thru 2013) the operation's power needs (i.e., approximately 30 MW) will be supplied by local power providers.

Concentrate transport: Copper concentrate will be transported from the site and to the port of Mejillones where a port facility will be constructed.


Since 2009, Quadra FNX completed an updated infill drilling programme of 117 new drill holes with 63,650 m of new drilling since the scoping study in July 2009 in and around the resource area. This infill drilling continued after the cutoff date for the resource database. Long-term copper price assumptions were updated from the previously used $2.00/lb to $2.50/lb resulting in a lower cutoff grade of 0.2% copper equivalent (previously 0.3%). The overall impact of both the infill drilling and the new copper prices increased Measured and Indicated resources by approximately 890 million tonnes.

To view the table "2011 Sierra Gorda Copper, Molybdenum & Gold Resources," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table05.pdf


There are three major ore types identified in this deposit: transition, high acid soluble molybdenum, and sulphide. All three zones consist of sulphide mineralization that can be processed in the flotation plant; however, they have different mineralogical and metallurgical characteristics, as follows:

  • The high acid soluble molybdenum zone, which represents less than 1% of the reserve, contains high levels of acid soluble molybdenum, not recoverable by flotation. Expected molybdenum recovery is ~20%.
  • The transition zone is the material between the oxide-sulphide contact and the sulphide zone, averaging ~40 metres below the oxide-sulphide contact, and represents 8.5% of the reserve. It contains some oxide molybdenum and recovery is ~65%.
  • The sulphide zone representing by far the greatest part of the resource, is the mineralization from a distance of ~40 metres below the oxide-sulphide contact to the bottom of the resource model (elevation 652 metres) and expected molybdenum recovery is ~ 76%.

To view the table "2011 Sierra Gorda Copper, Molybdenum & Gold Mineral Reserves," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table06.pdf

Project Upside Opportunities

Oxide Leach Cap

Based on a cutoff grade of 0.2% Cu, the Measured and Indicated oxide resources at the Sierra Gorda project total 237 Mt of oxide material grading 0.34% Cu. Currently approximately 200 Mt of this material is treated as waste and will be stockpiled to be potentially processed at a later stage. The possibility of processing oxides resources, using heap leach and SX-EW processing was included in the EIA permits. The JV agreement gives Quadra FNX the right to advance the development of the project oxide resources on its own. Sumitomo has the right of first refusal to participate or allow Quadra FNX to proceed with the development of the oxide potential with or without a third party.

Exploration potential

The Salvadora area was not included in the reserve because of its higher strip ratio, although it is possible that it could be added into a future mine plan. In addition, there are numerous other exploration targets that exist in the vicinity of the Sierra Gorda project area.

Risk Mitigation

EPCM contractor

Fluor has been appointed EPCM contractor for the on-site process and ancillary facilities. Fluor has significant experience globally in copper mine development projects and a strong presence in Latin America, and particularly in Chile.

On-site pilot plant

In advance of the project start date, confirmatory metallurgical and pilot plant test work will continue to be conducted on the Sierra Gorda project in order to further develop the flotation model, with a focus on the molybdenum-rich transition ores, as well as optimizing reagent and blend strategies. A core drilling program to develop additional ore for the test work is ongoing, with the first test work scheduled for September 2011. The Company believes that this additional technical due-diligence will significantly de-risk the ramp up of the Sierra Gorda project.

Financial Analysis and Commodity Price Sensitivity

The financial analysis of the project is based upon two pricing cases: the Base Case and a Spot Case closer to current prices. Details of the price assumptions are shown below. The economics are shown both pre-tax and after the Chilean Mining Tax and First Category Tax (After-Tax), and using various discount rates. Cash flows are discounted to January 1, 2011

To view the table "Financial Summary for Base and Spot Metal Price Cases," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table07.pdf

To view the table "Metal Price Sensitivity," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table08.pdf

The table below highlights the sensitivity of project economics to a 10% change in key input variable on the After-Tax NPV of the project using an 8% discount rate. Base case commodity price assumptions assumed $2.50/lb Cu, $12.00/lb Mo and $1,000/oz Au. The table highlights that the economics of the Sierra Gorda project is most sensitive to the copper price and operating costs.

To view the table "Key Sensitivities," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/quadra_fnx_may16_table09.pdf


A conference call to discuss the Sierra Gorda Joint Venture Agreement and the results of the feasibility study has been scheduled for Monday, May 16th 2011, at 11.00am ET (8.00am PDT). The North American toll free number for this conference call is 1-416-340-8530 while the international number is 1-877-240-9722. To access the simultaneous webcast, visit Quadra FNX's website at www.quadrafnx.com or www.InvestorCalendar.com. The playback version of the call will be available until Friday, May 24th, 2011 at 1-905-694-9451 or North American toll free 1-800-408-3053 and using the pass code: 8762401.

Qualified Persons

Quadra FNX commissioned Pincock, Allen & Holt ("PAH") to provide an independent Qualified Person's Review and NI 43-101 compliant Technical Report ("Technical Report") for the Sierra Gorda Project based on information contained in a feasibility study prepared for Quadra FNX. PAH has reviewed the feasibility study and is preparing the Technical Report, which will describe the resource and reserve updates and feasibility study findings. The Technical Report will be filed on the Company's website and SEDAR within 45 days. The work by PAH is being done under the direction of Leonel Lopez, a qualified person for the purposes of National Instrument 43-101. Mr. Lopez has reviewed and approved the contents of this news release.

Sierra Gorda resources were estimated by Mine Development Associates ("MDA") under the direction of Steven Ristorcelli, C.P.G. Steven Ristorcelli, as a qualified person for the purposes of National Instrument 43-101, has reviewed and verified the data that pertains to the resources in this press release.

For a discussion of sampling, analysis, data verification, quality assurance and quality control, please see the discussion in the Company's July 2009 scoping study, a copy of which is available on SEDAR or the Company's website.

About Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. (TSX:QUX)

Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. is a leading mid-tier copper mining company with corporate offices in Vancouver, B.C. and Toronto, Ontario. Quadra FNX produces copper, nickel and precious metals from its operating mines: Robinson in Nevada, Carlota in Arizona, Franke in northern Chile, and McCreedy West, Levack, which includes Morrison, and Podolsky in Sudbury, Ontario. The Company has two key development projects, including the Sierra Gorda copper-molybdenum project in Chile, and the Victoria project, an advanced exploration project in Sudbury. Quadra FNX employs approximately 1,900 people in North and South America.

Forward-Looking Statement

This Press Release contains "forward-looking information" that is based on Quadra FNX's expectations, estimates and projections as of the dates as of which those statements were made. This forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements with respect to the Company's business strategy, plans, outlook, financing plans, long-term growth in cash flow, earnings per share and shareholder value, projections, targets and expectations as to reserves, resources, results of exploration (including targets) and related expenses, property acquisitions, mine development, mine operations, mine production costs, drilling activity, sampling and other data, estimating grade levels, future recovery levels, future production levels, capital costs, costs savings, cash and total costs of production of copper, gold and other minerals, expenditures for environmental matters, projected life of Quadra FNX's mines, reclamation and other post closure obligations and estimated future expenditures for those matters, completion dates for the various development stages of mines, availability of water for milling and mining, future copper, gold, molybdenum and other mineral prices (including the long-term estimated prices used in calculating Quadra FNX's mineral reserves), end-use demand for copper, currency exchange rates, debt reductions, use of future tax assets, timing of expected sales and final pricing of concentrate sales, the percentage of anticipated production covered by option contracts or agreements, anticipated outcome of litigation and anticipated timing of production at the Sierra Gorda project. Generally, this forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "outlook", "anticipate", "project", "target", "believe", "estimate", "expect", "intend", "should", "scheduled", "will", "plan" and similar expressions. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause Quadra FNX's actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, and developed based on assumptions about such risks, uncertainties and other factors set out herein, including but not limited to:

  • Our ability to successfully bring the Sierra Gorda project into production;
  • Fluctuation in prices of plant, equipment and other capital required at the Sierra Gorda project;
  • Receipt of approvals from regulatory agencies before the Joint Venture Agreement can be formalized;
  • Receipt of all permits required for the Sierra Gorda project;
  • The ability of our key contractors to perform the services for us in the manner contracted for;
  • The plans currently in place with respect to securing adequate sources of water, power and other infrastructure to the site;
  • The availability and cost of key operating supplies and services and in particular shortages of critical supplies such as tires, steel and key items of equipment;
  • Delays in construction of the power transmission line;
  • The production facilities may not achieve the planned desired recoveries;
  • Uncertainties as to the impact on the molybdenum market of the quantity anticipated to be produced
  • Uncertainties as to the availability and price of a long term power supply
  • Fluctuations in metal prices;
  • Fluctuations between the Chilean peso and the US dollar;
  • Insurance coverage may not be available for certain risks that the company might deem it prudent to insure against;
  • The ability to expand or replace depleted reserves and the possible recalculation or reduction of the reserves and resources;
  • The highly competitive labor market in the mining industry in general and Chile specifically may have an adverse effect on the company's ability to attract and retain qualified people.;
  • Actual capital costs, operating costs and expenditures, production schedules and economic returns from the Company's mining projects;
  • Geotechnical issues; specifically pit slope stability;
  • The mineralogy and block model assumptions.;
  • The ongoing litigation and potential future litigation at the Sierra Gorda Project;
  • Potential challenges to title to the properties;
  • Seismic events at the Chilean sites;
  • The dependence on transportation facilities and infrastructure;
  • The actual costs of reclamation may vary from original estimates;
  • Inherent hazards and risks associated with mining operations;
  • Inherent uncertainties associated with mineral exploration;
  • The mining industry is competitive;
  • Being subject to government regulation, including changes in regulation;
  • Being subject to extensive environmental laws and regulations, including change in regulation;
  • Need for governmental licenses and permits;
  • Derivative contracts and exposure to the credit risk of counter-parties;
  • Taxation;
  • Political and country risk;
  • Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; and
  • Global financial conditions.

A discussion of these and other factors that may affect Quadra FNX's actual results, performance, achievements or financial position is contained in the filings by Quadra FNX with the Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities, including Quadra FNX's Annual Information Form. Forward-looking statements are based on assumptions management believes to be reasonable, including but not limited to the continued operation of Quadra FNX's mining operations, no material adverse change in the market price of commodities, that the mining operations will operate in accordance with Quadra FNX's public statements and achieve its stated production outcomes, and such other assumptions and factors as set out herein. Although Quadra FNX has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Quadra FNX disclaims any intent or obligations to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, estimates or options, future events or results or otherwise, unless required to do so by law.

Contact Information

  • Media and Investor Relations Contact:
    Quadra FNX Mining Ltd.
    Derek White
    Executive Vice President, Corporate Development
    (604) 807-7555

    Quadra FNX Mining Ltd.
    Nawojka Wachowiak
    Vice President, Investor Relations
    (416) 642-9209