First Quantum Minerals Reports on Q4 2023 operational results

Total copper production for the fourth quarter was 160,200 tonnes, a 28% decrease from Q3 2023. The quarter-over-quarter decrease in production was impacted by the ramp down in operations at Cobre Panamá to a phase of P&SM due to illegal blockades around the mine site while lower production at Kansanshi and Sentinel also contributed to the decline. Copper sales volumes in Q4 2023 totaled 127,721 tonnes, approximately 32,479 tonnes lower than production, mainly due to port disruptions at Cobre Panamá that prevented the shipment of copper concentrates.

  • Cobre Panamá produced 62,616 tonnes of copper in Q4 2023, a decrease of 50,118 tonnes from the previous quarter as production was suspended at the end of November 2023 due to illegal blockades at the Punta Rincón port and at the roads to the site that prevented the delivery of supplies that were necessary to operate the power plant. Prior to the disruptions from the illegal blockades, Cobre Panamá operated at an annualized throughput rate of 93 million tonnes for the month of October. This, combined with higher grades and improving recoveries, allowed the operation to achieve monthly record production of 41,543 tonnes. Copper production for the full year 2023 was 330,863 tonnes, down from 350,438 tonnes in 2022. Copper C1 cash cost1 of $1.45 per lb was $0.26 per lb higher than the previous quarter due to lower copper production volumes and lower gold by-product credits. 2024 production guidance for Cobre Panamá has been suspended as the site currently remains in a phase of P&SM. At the request of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (“MICI”), Cobre Panamá delivered a preliminary draft for the first phase of P&SM on January 16, 2024. Previous illegal blockages around the mine have dissipated, allowing for the delivery by road and at port of necessary supplies to conduct the P&SM program. The associated costs for the program are estimated at $15 to $20 million per month and further reductions could follow depending on environmental stewardship programs. Approximately 121 thousand dry metric tonnes of copper concentrate remains onsite following disruptions at the Punta Rincón port. The sale of this concentrate will result in a net cash inflow of approximately $225 million at current market prices.
  • Kansanshi’s copper production of 31,887 tonnes in Q4 2023 was 7,713 tonnes lower than the previous quarter as a result of lower throughput, grades and recoveries across all three circuits. Lower throughput was primarily due to mining constraints in M17 resulting in slower mining rates and the stockpiling of material from M15 and M17 due to acid volume restrictions. Kansanshi’s production for 2023 of 134,827 tonnes was within the revised guidance range of 130,000 to 140,000 tonnes. Copper C1 cash cost1 of $2.43 per lb was $0.80 higher than Q3 2023 mainly due to lower copper production volumes. Production guidance for 2024 is expected to be 130,000 to 150,000 tonnes of copper and 65,000 to 75,000 ounces of gold.
  • Sentinel reported copper production of 59,964 tonnes in Q4 2023, 3,841 tonnes lower than the previous quarter mainly due to lower throughput as production continued to be impacted by the mining of very hard rock from the lower levels in Stages 1 and 2 of the open pit. Mining productivity, however, continued to improve during the quarter with improved blast fragmentation and reduced congestion with the commencement of the Stage 3 (Western Cut-back) mining. Sentinel copper production for 2023 of 214,046 tonnes was lower than the revised guidance range of 220,000 to 230,000 tonnes. Copper C1 cash cost1 of $1.85 per lb was $0.20 per lb higher than the preceding quarter, reflecting higher electricity prices. Copper production guidance for 2024 is 220,000 to 250,000 tonnes. The major focus for 2024 at Sentinel will be on the development of Stage 3 (Western Cut-back) in order to enable improved mining productivities and increased availability of softer material from higher elevations. The wet weather preparations and improved storm water management processes have been implemented to mitigate the risk of water accumulation as experienced in previous raining seasons.
  • Enterprise produced 2,751 tonnes of nickel during the fourth quarter, an increase from 1,556 tonnes in Q3 2023 as the operation continues to ramp up. Production guidance in 2024 for Enterprise is 10,000 to 20,000 contained tonnes of nickel. Commercial production and full plant throughput is expected in 2024.
  • At Ravensthorpe, as previously announced, a decision was made subsequent to the year-end to scale back mining operations and associated processing activities as a result of continued low nickel prices. A new operating plan has been developed under which Ravensthorpe aims to maintain production from ore stockpiles and suspend mining from the Shoemaker Levy ore body. The high-pressure acid leach circuit will also be bypassed and ore will be exclusively processed through the atmospheric leach circuits. Production from existing ore stockpiles is expected for 18 months after which time, mining at Hale Bopp and Halley’s ore bodies is expected to commence.

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