June 9, 2010 / 10:17 PM / in 9 years

First Quantum says new projects may double revenue

* Has added nickel, copper projects in past year

* Africa-focused miner faces permitting dispute in DRC (In U.S. dollars unless noted)

TORONTO, June 9 (Reuters) - First Quantum Minerals’ (FM.TO) revenue could double once new production from recently acquired copper and nickel projects comes on line in the next three years, the company’s president said on Wednesday.

The Africa-focused copper and gold miner has run into permitting trouble in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but has embarked on an acquisition spree over the past year that will see it become a significant nickel miner as well.

The company closed its acquisition of the Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Australia from BHP Billiton BLT.L earlier this year and acquired the Kevitsa nickel project in Finland when it bought Scandinavian Minerals last year.

Both mines should be completed in 2011 and could produce a total of 60,000 tonnes of nickel a year.

The company is also fast-tracking development of the Kalumbila copper project in Zambia, which it acquired last year through the takeover of Kiwara Plc.

The project could be producing as early as 2013 and could churn out as much as 150,000 tonnes of copper a year, Clive Newall, president of the Vancouver-based company, said at the RBC Global Mining and Materials Conference in Toronto.

“The new nickel production and Kalumbila effectively double the size of the company in terms of revenue,” he said.

First Quantum, which currently operates three mines in central and west Africa, produced about 370,000 tonnes of copper and 190,000 ounces of gold in 2009, for revenue of about $1.9 billion.

However, the company has been struggling to regain permits for its Kolwezi copper tailing project in DRC, which were pulled last year by the government. The company is seeking international arbitration, which Newall said is now in progress.

First Quantum shares are down 35 percent this year on the back of the DRC troubles, particularly after the country’s Supreme Court last month annulled the company’s rights to its Frontier mine. The firm is still mining the deposit as the DRC has taken no action to shut it down.

The stock rose C$1.34 to C$51.37 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson

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