Copper production at Kansanshi mine and the ramp-up of production at Sentinel mine helped push First Quantum Minerals’ copper output up by 11 percent year-on-year, according to the company’s financial results for the first quarter of 2017.
Strong performances at the company’s Las Cruces mine in Spain also helped bolster total copper sales to 132,356 tonnes for the three months to March 31, 2017.
Previous quarterly records for concentrate throughput and anode production at the Kansanshi copper smelter were exceeded by 4 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The now-commercial Sentinel mine at Kalumbila contributed 34,291 tonnes to the record 139,810 tonnes sold by the company during the quarter.
“We are pleased with the strong start to 2017 as the momentum of last year was carried into the first quarter,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Philip Pascall.
Copper production unit cost rose, as expected, reflecting mainly a full quarter of commercial operations at Sentinel and the effects of the rainy season in Zambia.
“Overall production and unit cost were good despite the rainy season in Zambia and the difficulties at Çayeli. The performances at the Kansanshi complex and the Las Cruces mine are particularly noteworthy,” said Pascall.
Total copper production for the year 2016, including Sentinel, exceeded previously-announced market guidance and year 2015 by 5 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
Commercial production was declared at Sentinel effective from November 1, 2016. The decision followed the increase in supply of adequate and consistent electricity to the mine from 126MW in mid-October to 136MW in the quarter to support the mine’s operating plan.
The Kansanshi copper smelter recorded its highest quarterly throughput in its 18 months of commercial production in the fourth quarter of 2016 at 314,399 tonnes of concentrate, exceeding its design annual throughput rate of 1.2 million tonnes of concentrate, on an annualised basis.
“2017 is expected to be an important year for First Quantum with several key development milestones at Cobre Panama, the further ramp-up and transition of Sentinel and the continuation of our various process and margin improvement initiatives across the Company,” said Pascall.