Kansanshi copper smelter capacity to increase to 1.65 Mtpa

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has announced that its Kansanshi Expansion will increase the existing 28 Mtpa Kansanshi sulphide, mixed and leach ore processing facilities to an overall capacity of 52 Mtpa. The S3 Expansion had been previously approved and commenced but activities were halted in 2013 as a result of market conditions and a challenging fiscal environment.  The earthworks, foundations, steelworks and the filtration facilities (currently operational) for the S3 Expansion were completed prior to the cessation of activities.

Once internal approvals are granted, construction could potentially re-commence in 2023 with completion by late 2024. An estimated $408M of capital would be required for this construction, inclusive of $25M for upgrades and enhancements to existing processing facilities.

The current scenario has the majority of spending occurring between the second half of 2023 and early 2025.  The timing of the S3 Expansion could be advanced or delayed depending on capital availability, commodity prices and the Zambian fiscal regime.

The additional mining fleet required for the S3 Expansion is expected to be procured at an estimated cost of $242M, to enable the annual mining volumes to increase from the current annual rate of 50 million bank cubic metres (MBCM) to approximately 80 MBCM.

The total capital required for the S3 expansion project is expected to be approximately $650M, to be spent over approximately two years starting in the second half of 2023. This expansion plan will continue to be further refined before project approval is sought which is expected within the new two years.

In addition to the processing plant expansion and upgrades, the Kansanshi smelter will be increased to 1.65 Mtpa capacity during 2022/23, an increase from current performance level of 1.38 Mtpa.  Rather than constructing the originally proposed second smelter, the capacity increase will be achieved partly through enhancing copper concentrate grades by lowering the carbon and pyrite content of the Kansanshi and Sentinel concentrate feeds. 

Concentrate processing capacity will be further expanded through modifications to the existing high pressure leach (HPL) circuit.  These expansion measures are sufficient to accommodate the majority of the increased concentrate production from both Kansanshi and Sentinel, with some excess concentrate to be marketed to other Zambian smelters.  An estimated $80M is expected to be spent on the smelter expansion and an additional $15M, on the concentrate cleaning and HPL plant modifications.

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