Proving that it’s got more going on than a potential merger with Inmet Mining (IMN-T), First Quantum Minerals (FM-T) has delivered some serious tonnage from two of its projects in Zambia.
The company announced a significant reserve and resource upgrade at one producing asset, and released an impressive maiden estimate for another development project.
The updated estimate was linked to its Kansanshi copper mine, with measured and indicated resources increasing by 121% in tonnage and 74% in contained metal, and proven and probable reserves jumping 178% in tonnage and 106% in contained copper. The new totals will impact operations at the mine.
Reserves stand at 725.6 million tonnes grading 0.82% copper and 0.15 gram gold using a 0.25% copper cut-off grade, US$3 per lb. copper price and US$1,200 per oz. gold price.
Total measured and indicated resources from Kansanshi stand at 744.3 million tonnes grading 0.86% copper, for 6.4 million tonnes of copper.
The added heft comes on the back of over 120,000 metres of diamond drilling. This effort helped the company outline the South East Dome discovery, 2 km from the main pit, which contributes 674,000 tonnes of copper with an average grade of 0.9% copper.
The company announced that the new resource is connected with a higher strip ratio, which went up to 2.4 to 1 from 2.1 to 1. The increase followed a decrease in the cut-off grade to 0.25% copper, from the previous cut-off of 0.28% copper.
If investors are concerned about a slight increase in strip ratio, the deposit’s boosted scale compensates in other ways.
First Quantum says the increase in ore bolsters the mine life by 16 years at a throughput rate of 50 million tonnes per year, which represents a leap in time and scale, as the company had previously outlined 11 years at 25 million tonnes per year.
With the update’s success, First Quantum is expected to approve a second expansion phase, which would increase the project’s annual copper production to 400,000 tonnes from 250,000 tonnes by 2015.
First Quantum has an 80% stake in Kansanshi, which last year produced 230,295 tonnes copper and 112,286 oz. gold.
A new resource estimate is coming from its Trident project, also in Zambia, on a deposit known as Enterprise.
The Main zone and the South West zone at Enterprise tallied proven and probable reserves of 32.7 million tonnes grading 1.10% nickel for 363,000 contained tonnes nickel.
Measured and indicated resources came in at 40.1 million tonnes grading 1.07% nickel, and inferred resources were 7.1 million tonnes grading 0.70% nickel for 481,000 contained tonnes nickel.
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