First Quantum sees no negative impact from potential Zambia default – CFO

Kansanshi copper mine in Zambia’s North-Western Province, owned by Canada’s First Quantum and Zambia’s ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc. Photo by ZCCM.

Canadian copper miner First Quantum Minerals sees no negative impact on its operations from a potential default in Zambia, its chief financial officer said on Thursday.

Zambia – one of the world’s top copper producers – was struggling with its ballooning debt before the coronavirus pandemic roiled global markets and looks headed for a messy and protracted default.

The government said this week it has reached a deal to defer debt repayments that were due this month on a loan from the China Development Bank. It had missed a $42.5 million coupon payment on one of its eurobonds that was due on Oct. 14. ‘

“At the moment we’re not seeing any negative impact on our operation,” Chief Financial Officer Hannes Meyer said on a call to discuss third-quarter results.

First Quantum operates the Kansanshi and Sentinel mines in Zambia.

Last year it disclosed talks with China’s Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd for a potential sale of minority interests in the mines. Those discussions stalled due to the coronavirus, however.

The sale process continues but there’s no further update, First Quantum’s director of strategy Tristan Pascall said.

(By Jeff Lewis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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