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First Quantum pulls $1.25bn trigger on Kansanshi expansion

Kansanshi is the largest copper mine by output in Zambia and is 20% owned by ZCCM-IH, with the balance owned by First Quantum Minerals. (Image courtesy of First Quantum Minerals)

The board of First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) has resolved to proceed with a $1.25 billion expansion of the company’s Kansanshi copper mine in Zambia, including the Enterprize nickel project.

Called the S3 Expansion, the project is expected to transition the mine from its current selective high-grade, medium-scale operation to a medium-grade, larger-scale mine able to deal with a higher proportion of sulphide mineralization at depth.

According to a September 2020 technical report, the S3 Expansion entails the construction of a standalone 25 million tonne per annum processing plant with a new, more extensive mining fleet that will push throughput to 53 million tonnes per annum. Once the expansion is completed, copper output from Kansanshi is expected to average about 250,000 tonnes per annum for the remaining mine life to 2044.

The company reports a significant portion of the civil and structural work onsite for the S3 Expansion has been completed. The work includes completing the remaining engineering design works, procurement and installation of equipment, electrics, controls and infrastructure.

The S3 processing train will comprise a 28-megawatt SAG mill and a 22-megawatt ball mill. The open-pit mine will be expanded to increase the supply of sulphide ore from the Main Pit and extend into the South East Dome deposit. The expanded mining fleet will use similar ultra-class equipment as First Quantum’s other vital mines. It will benefit from new electrical loading and drilling equipment, and the extension of the current electric trolley assist infrastructure.