VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 25, 2011) -

(All figures expressed in US dollars, unless otherwise noted)

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. ("First Quantum" or the "Company" (TSX:FM)(LSE:FQM) today provided the following update on its expansion and development objectives for its operating mines and growth projects.


  • Kansanshi:
    • Stepped up exploration program with primary focus on the Southeast Dome prospect
    • 60% expansion to the production capacity over the 2011 – 2015 timeframe to approximately 400,000 tonnes of copper per year
    • Evaluation study underway on building a copper smelter close to Kansanshi
  • Guelb Moghrein:
    • Optimizing recently-completed throughput capacity expansion
  • Trident Project – Sentinel Deposit:
    • Internal study updated to assume production between 250,00 to 360,00,000 tonnes of copper per year
    • Subject to results of resource and mine studies, securing all relevant permits and approval by the Company's board of directors, development could begin in 2011 with commercial production in 2014
    • Ongoing drill program to further define resource base
  • Haquira:
    • Expanding drill programs to confirm and enhance resource base and ensuring continuity of community liaison activities
    • Commence Environmental Impact Assessment on project approach; target completion by mid 2012
  • Ravensthorpe and Kevitsa:
    •  Construction on the projects, and pre-commissioning work, proceeding on schedule
  • Copper production objective:
    • 46% growth from 2010 to 470,000 tonnes in 2015 – excluding potential production from Trident -Sentinel and Haquira which could add a further 500,000 tonnes
  • Nickel production objective:
    • Beginning in 2011 and increasing to 55,000 tonnes in 2014
  • Investment in growth projects:
    • ~ $2 billion projected investment over the 2011 – 2014 timeframe – excluding the potential development of the Haquira deposit and the building of a copper smelter in Zambia

"In 2011, there will be a number of important milestones in the advancement of First Quantum's growth and geographic diversification strategy. Most notably will be the Company's emergence as a nickel producer with the start of commissioning at Ravensthorpe and the establishment of a presence in Peru with the Haquira copper deposit," noted Mr. Philip Pascall, Chairman and Chief Executive of First Quantum.

"While we continue to advance this growth and diversification strategy, our long-term commitment to Zambia remains central in the Company's future. Our plans for the expansion of Kansanshi, the development of Sentinel and the construction of a new smelter at Solwezi, with a total new investment of almost $1.5 billion, demonstrate the strength of that commitment to the Government and people of Zambia.

Overall, First Quantum is well-positioned with a strong operating base, excellent financial capacity and a development pipeline that could triple its production base," Mr. Pascall concluded.

Kansanshi copper-gold operation, Zambia

At the Kansanshi operation, an expansion project is underway to expand annual copper production capacity from the current 250,000 tonnes to 400,000 tonnes of copper in 2015. The expansion project will be implemented in two phases. Phase 1, which is currently underway, is expected to increase annual production capacity to approximately 285,000 tonnes. It is focused on expanding the treatment capacity of the oxide circuit by about 20% to 8.5 million tonnes and building in flexibility to allow for the mixed and sulphide circuits to be switched as needed to suit mining activity. The expansion will include the use of relocated equipment from the recently closed Bwana Mkubwa copper SX/EW plant as well as new installations. This phase of the expansion project has a capital budget of $40 million and construction completion is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Construction of Phase 2 is expected to start in the second half of 2012 with commissioning targeted for the first half of 2014. This phase of the expansion will focus on the construction of a new concentrator with a planned annual throughput of 25 million tonnes of ore. As a result, Kansanshi's total annual production capacity is expected to increase to approximately 400,000 tonnes of copper. The capital budget for Phase 2 is expected to be in the range of $350 million.

In addition to the production expansion project, Kansanshi's drilling program has been stepped up with a primary focus on the Southeast Dome prospect. An updated reserve and resources estimate incorporating results from the program is expected to be released by the end of 2011. The capital budget for the drill program in 2011 of $16 million compares to approximately $3.5 million in prior periods.

Guelb Moghrein copper and gold mine, Mauritania

The main focus going forward is the optimization of the recently-completed throughput capacity expansion to 3.8 million tonne per year. A combination of increased production and enhanced recoveries will allow annual copper production to rise to approximately 50,000 tonnes.

Ongoing exploration at and nearby Guelb Moghrein is focused on identifying additional feedstock to extend the life of the operation. 

Sentinel copper deposit, Zambia

Although a NI-43-101 compliant resource is not expected until mid-2011, based on drilling and other work to date, the Company's internal study has been updated since first reported on in October 2010. The internal study now assumes a resource of at least 700 million tonnes, headgrade in the range of 0.65% to 0.80% copper and annual throughput rate of 40 million tonnes of ore for annual production of approximately 250,000 tonnes of copper. Both mining and processing conditions continue to appear to be relatively straightforward supporting the assumption that the unit cash cost of production is likely to be in the range of the Kansanshi mine. Results from the ongoing drill program, which has 14 rigs on site, may lead to an expansion of the resource base and allow the possibility of further production expansion.

Subject to results of the on-going resource and mine studies, securing all relevant permits and approval by the Company's board of directors, the Company expects that the initial design and construction phases could commence during 2011 with commercial production in early 2014. Based on these assumptions and the Company's experience, the capital cost to develop, including the necessary infrastructure, is expected to be in the range of $1 billion.

It should be noted that the potential quantities and grades and other technical parameters presented in this document in relation to the Sentinel deposit are conceptual in nature only. There has been insufficient exploration to define a NI-43-101 compliant resource and it is uncertain whether further exploration will result in the Sentinel deposit being delineated as a mineral resource and whether the Sentinel deposit will be developed into a mine.

Potential copper smelter, Zambia

Currently, the bulk of Kansanshi concentrate production is treated at smelters in Zambia, but from time to time, due to limited capacity, some copper concentrate is sold to third parties for export sale. The Zambian smelters are located at least 250 kilometers from the Kansanshi minesite. Due to the substantial increase in production expected from the Kansanshi mine and the anticipated new production from the Sentinel deposit, an evaluation is currently underway to determine the economics and options for building and operating a copper smelter close to Kansanshi. The evaluation is expected to be completed in the second half of 2011.

Haquira copper deposit, Peru

The acquisition of Antares Minerals and its principal asset, the Haquira copper deposit, was finalized in December 2010. The Company's current priorities are to expand the infill and condemnation drill program, initiate the process to expand the exploration program to enhance the resource base and commence the environmental impact assessment on the project approach. A budget of $30 million has been allocated to the drill programs. An updated reserves and resources estimate and the environmental impact assessment are expected in mid-2012 when detailed project design will commence. In addition, the Company is putting in place the necessary resources to ensure the continuation of the community liaison activities started by the management of Antares Minerals.

Ravensthorpe nickel project, Australia

Detailed design work of modifications at the Ravensthorpe project, (which includes crushing, conveying, stockpiles, reclaim, rejects handling and dewatering, buffer ponds, sands storage facility, product screening, MHP bagging plant, tailings storage facility, evaporation ponds, additional diesel generation) is substantially completed.

Various Environmental and Project Management Plans received approval from the relevant authorities and the work associated with these approvals is progressing well.

Concrete work on both limonite and saprolite crushing stations and the new dewatering station in beneficiation has been completed and erection of steelwork and mechanical installation is underway. Inspection, testing and re-commissioning of the existing plant continues.

Completion of new construction works and testing of the existing plant are scheduled to be achieved during the second quarter of 2011. This will be followed by approximately six months of commissioning and ramp-up.

The operations recruitment program continues according to schedule.

Ravensthorpe's average annual production of nickel metal is expected to be approximately 39,000 tonnes for the first five years after recommencement of operations and an average annual production of 28,000 tonnes of nickel metal over the expected life of mine of over 30 years.

Kevitsa nickel-copper-PGE project, Finland

Construction of the $400 million facility is continuing and on schedule for commercial production in mid 2012. Currently, the mill building structure is complete and the flotation building erection is approximately 50% complete. Major equipment deliveries to site have commenced, and the mechanical installation works and mill installation works will begin shortly. Infrastructure works are well advanced with the main access road and power line to site complete and the waterlines commenced. 

Pre-stripping of the mine starter pit is scheduled for second half of 2011 and all major mining mobile equipment is on order.

 Construction is continuing through the current Arctic winter.

 Production objectives 

Assuming the growth projects currently underway and those contemplated achieve their targeted completion dates, First Quantum's projections for its copper and nickel production are as follows:

Copper production   2010A   2011F   2012F   2013F   2014F   2015F
    (000's tonnes)
  Total   323   300   360   370   410   470

Note: These projections do not include production from Sentinel or Haquira which could add a further 500,000 tonnes of copper per annum by 2015

Nickel production   2011F   2012F   2013F   2014F   2015F
  (000's tonnes)
  Total   15   50   52   55   55

Capital investment in growth projects

The anticipated capital investment in approved and contemplated growth projects is as follows:

    (US$ millions)
Ravensthorpe                   $190
Kevitsa                   $400
Kansanshi                   $390
Sentinel*                   $1,000
Total growth projects                   $1,980
  • Subject to results of the on-going resource and mine studies, securing all relevant permits
    and approval by the Company's board of directors
Note: Anticipated capital excludes the potential development of the Haquira deposit and the building of a copper smelter in Zambia

On Behalf of the Board of Directors of First Quantum Minerals Ltd. 

G. Clive Newall, President

For further information visit our web site at

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 U.S. and Canadian securities laws. Such forward-looking statements or nformation include but are not limited to statements or information with respect to the timing and amounts of future production of copper and nickel, future price of copper, nickel or gold, estimation of mineral reserves and mineral resources, our exploration and development program, estimated future expenses, exploration and development capital requirements and the timing thereof, the resource headgrade and annual throughput rate assumptions in our external study of Sentinel, 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 xpected", "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 the timing thereof 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.

See our annual information form and our quarterly and annual management's discussion and analysis 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 the 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.


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Contact Information: First Quantum Minerals Ltd. - North American contact
Sharon Loung
Director, Investor Relations
(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)
Brian Cattell/James Devas
+44 207 379 5151
+44 20 7379 6161 /