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First Quantum Minerals’ is engaging with the new government to reinforce its long-term commitment to Zambia and reenergise its long-term investment plans for the mining sector.

“Following the recent elections and subsequent smooth transfer of power in Zambia, we are pleased to be engaging constructively with the new Government as we look to establish the parameters for long-term investments into our growth projects in the country,” said FQM’s Chairman and CEO Philip Pascall, after the company released its third-quarter 2021 results.

Total copper production for the third quarter of 2021 was up 5 percent, with its Zambian subsidiary Sentinel Mine at Kalumbila delivering its best quarter of the year, producing 59,931 tonnes of copper, a 10 percent increase from the preceding quarter.

The mining firm revealed that production improved quarter-over-quarter because of record production at its Cobre Panama mine and continued strong performance at Sentinel while production at Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi remained steady during the quarter.

Sentinel achieved record milling rate in August, and improved ore grades were processed in September, while the grade was expected to continue to improve in the fourth quarter and throughout 2022 as higher-grade ore is exposed in both the Stage 1 and Stage 2 pits, and that the fourth in-pit crusher at Sentinel is scheduled for commissioning in December 2021, which will enable the plant to increase throughput to 62 million tonnes per annum in 2022.

Mr Pascall further said that the company’s net debt decreased by $449 million during the quarter, with a total reduction of $1,107 million during the nine months year-to-date, bringing the balance down to $6,302 million as of September 30, 2021, and that with the current strength in the copper price and ongoing strong operational performance, a significant further reduction is expected in the last quarter of this year.

The group’s gross profit for the third quarter of 2021 was $613 million, down slightly from $625 million in Q2 2021 as sales volumes in Zambia were impacted by port congestion and a global shortage in container shipping capacity that is expected to continue into the fourth quarter.

Anode shipments in Zambia were impacted by a global shortage of container shipping capacity as well as port congestion at the Durban, Walvis Bay, and Dar Es Salaam ports, adding that consequently, some planned shipments were rolled into the fourth quarter. These logistical challenges for Zambian sales and increased finished goods inventories are expected to continue into the fourth quarter.

The Company further revealed that it has continued to maintain health and sanitary protocols and to support the government health authorities in each jurisdiction to combat the spread of COVID-19, and the measures continue to be reviewed and adjusted as needed.

In Zambia, the FQM has provided testing and medical equipment and assisted with the construction of isolation facilities for the community. Ongoing support includes the provision of oxygen, consumables, face mask and sanitation stations, and transportation of medical supplies. Frequent interaction and sensitization with the surrounding communities are in place. The Company is working with the Ministry of Health in the North-Western Province to provide vaccination stations to employees and affiliated contractors in support of the national vaccination program.

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