First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has released preliminary production for the three months (“Q4”) and year ended December 31, 2021, and guidance for production, capital expenditures and costs for the years 2022 to 2024.
The Company has also released its targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) and a financial policy that includes a new performance-based dividend payout policy. The Company has released an updated National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) resource for the Las Cruces Underground Project.
“First Quantum continues to be focussed on delivering disciplined and responsible growth, which is reflected in the strong increase in our copper and nickel production through the guidance period. We remain committed to reducing our debt levels, whilst at the same time cautiously increasing capital returns to reflect the robust financial outlook. At First Quantum, we are committed to extracting resources responsibly and the importance that we place on sustainability is an intrinsic part of everything we do. We are pleased to have identified tangible solutions to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to contribute to the global energy transition by delivering the critical metals required,” commented Philip Pascall, Chairman and CEO.
2021 Preliminary production
First Quantum achieved its highest ever annual copper production of 816kt, a 5% increase from 2020, attributable to record production at Cobre Panama and the resilience of our other operations in dealing with the ongoing challenges brought about by COVID-19 over the last two years. Copper production in Q4 2021 was 201kt, 2kt below Q4 2020. Copper production was within January 2021 guidance of 785-850kt.
Cobre Panama achieved record copper production of 331kt for the full year, 125kt more than 2020. Copper production in Q4 2021 of 80kt was an increase of 14kt from Q4 2020. Despite facing COVID-19 preventative restrictions for over three quarters of the year, Cobre Panama’s performance was strong, exceeding initial 2021 guidance announced in January 2021 and delivering its first full year of uninterrupted production since announcing commercial production on September 1, 2019.
Sentinel achieved copper production of 233kt for the full year and 61kt in Q4 2021, 18kt and 2kt lower than 2020 levels, respectively. 2021 performance was impacted by the Train 1 Ball Mill Trunnion failure in the first quarter and a lower grade profile, however, record quarterly throughput was achieved in Q4 2021.
Kansanshi achieved copper production of 202kt for the full year, 19kt lower than 2020, reflecting the depleting oxide ore in the maturing mine. Copper production in Q4 2021 was 52kt, a reduction of 1kt from Q4 2020 resulting from the lower grades and oxide recoveries.
Other sites achieved consolidated copper production of 50kt for the full year, a 51kt reduction from 2020, resulting from the cessation of opening pit mining at Las Cruces and Guelb Moghrein in late 2020 and early 2021, respectively. Las Cruces is now reprocessing high-grade tailings while Guelb Moghrein is processing stockpiled ore until cutback ore is available, which is expected in 2023.
Total copper sales volumes, in particular for product from Zambian sites, were impacted by several port availability and operational issues, as well as the general and widespread constraints that the global container freight sector experienced over the majority of 2021. Although the bulk shipping sector was less affected by the global supply chain and freight related constraints, vessel freight costs were higher than the average over recent years. Concentrates from Panama and Cayeli are shipped bulk. The production and sales figures provided herein are preliminary and subject to final adjustment. The final production and sales figures will be confirmed in the Company’s financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2021.