First Quantum achieves record copper production in 2021, expects up to 12% output growth by 2024
(Kitco News) - First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM), a major global copper producer, said today that the company achieved its highest ever annual copper production of 816 thousand tonnes (“kt”) in 2021, a 5% increase from 2020, which is mainly due to record production at Cobre Panama.
The company noted that Cobre Panama achieved record copper production of 331kt for the full year, 125kt more than 2020. Despite facing COVID-19 preventative restrictions for over three quarters of the year, Cobre Panama’s performance was strong, exceeding initial 2021 guidance announced in January 2021 and delivering its first full year of uninterrupted production since announcing commercial production on September 1, 2019.
Sentinel achieved copper production of 233kt for the full year and 61kt in Q4 2021, 18kt and 2kt lower than 2020 levels, respectively. 2021 performance was impacted by the Train 1 Ball Mill Trunnion failure in the first quarter and a lower grade profile, however, record quarterly throughput was achieved in Q4 2021.
Kansanshi achieved copper production of 202kt for the full year, 19kt lower than 2020, reflecting the depleting oxide ore in the maturing mine. Copper production in Q4 2021 was 52kt, a reduction of 1kt from Q4 2020 resulting from the lower grades and oxide recoveries.
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The company added that other sites achieved consolidated copper production of 50kt for the full year, a 51kt reduction from 2020, resulting from the cessation of opening pit mining at Las Cruces and Guelb Moghrein in late 2020 and early 2021, respectively. Las Cruces is now reprocessing high-grade tailings while Guelb Moghrein is processing stockpiled ore until cutback ore is available, which is expected in 2023.
Importantly, in its three-year guidance released today, First Quantum said it expects that copper and nickel production to grow to 850-910kt and 40-50kt, respectively, by 2024; whereas capital cost guidance has increased to $1,250 million in 2023 and 2024 and $1,375 million in 2024, principally due to inflationary pressures.