First Quantum sees 15-yr life for Zambia copper mine

Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:34am EDT

* New mine and smelter to cost $2.4 bln

* Development to start after commercial talks

LUSAKA, March 26 (Reuters) - Canada's First Quantum minerals said on Monday an independent study has confirmed that a planned new copper mine in Zambia should last at least 15 years.

The estimates on the Sentinel copper project by an independent consultant matched those of the company, First Quantum said in a statement.

It is part of the Trident project that is located approximately 150 km west (90 miles) of the flagship Kansanshi mine.

The findings justified plans to develop Sentinel into a state-of-the-art facility capable of producing up to 300,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate annually, First Quantum said.

Plans call for developing the facility over two years at the same time as a new copper smelter that would process all of Sentinel's concentrate production, eliminating the need to export concentrate.

"We estimate Sentinel and the smelter project will require a capital investment of over $2.4 billion, including an extensive infrastructure development programme, and create approximately 2,400 direct jobs for Zambians," it said.

Development now awaits conclusion of commercial negotiations currently under way, the company said.

The miner has an 80 percent stake in the Kansanshi mine in Zambia, the world's eighth-largest copper mine. It also produces copper and gold from the Guelb Moghrein mine in Mauritania.

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