First Quantum Minerals (FQM) launches new project

By Nawa Mutumweno – First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has projected to spend between $600 million to $800 million as capital cost to develop its Sentinel deposit in North-Western Zambian.

The company which owns Kansanshi gold and copper mines have announced that the development of Sentinel deposit, formerly Kalumbila, was scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2011.

The Trident Project comprises five prospecting licences  totaling 2 300 square kilometers containing a number of attractive base metal prospects including the Sentinel deposit.

Approximately 150 km the provincial capital, Solwezi, the Trident Project was obtained through the acquisition of the Kiwara Plc in February 2010.

FQM stated that it would take two and a half years of construction phase leading to production in 2014.

FQM chairman and chief executive officer Philip Pascall expressed optimism that the mine development would proceed according to schedule.

“Based on drilling to date, we believe that this resource could be in the range of at least 300 million to 400 million tonnes at a headgrade in the range of 0.65% to 0.80% copper and as a result, the programme has been extended to cover a strike length of approximately 11.5 kilometers,” said Pascall.

“Assuming the results of further work are consistent   with work to date, the potential exists for a large resource. On this basis, we are carrying out an evaluation   and permitting process   for an operation based on an annual throughput  rate of 25 million tonnes per  annum. At present, based on our experience with other development projects, we expect the capital cost to develop, including the necessary infrastructure, could be in the range of $600 million to $800 million. Should the final resource estimate be closer to the upper end of our expectations, we may consider a larger operation. At this stage, both mining and processing conditions appear to be relatively straightforward, so again in comparison to other sulphide producing operations in the Copperbelt, we would expect the unit cost of production to be in the range of our  Zambian operation.