By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
THE targeted debt reduction programme of the First Quantum Mineral’s (FQM) US$2 billion is expected to be completed by the first half of this year, as the mining company achieves its highest-ever annual copper production.
FQM is committed to reducing total debt to levels appropriate for its business, according to FQM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Philip Pascall.
Mr Pascall said the targeted debt reduction programme of US$2 billion was expected to be completed by the first half of 2022.
“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,” he said when announcing FQM’s 2021 Preliminary Production.
Mr Pascall also announced that FQM set tangible targets with an identified realistic path to reduce its Green House Gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030.
He explained that the achievement of these targets was not expected to result in significant increases in capital expenditures or operating costs from previous forecasts.
“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,” Mr Pascall said.
Meanwhile, lower ore grades at FQMs’ two flagship Zambian mines last year have underscored the company’s goal of investing further in new production facilities.
Globally the company achieved its highest-ever annual copper production of 816,000 tonnes, a five percent increase from 2020.
According to the results, this was attributed to record production at its new Cobre Panama mine, and the resilience of its other operations.
Copper production in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 201,000 tonnes.
Copper production at Sentinel Mine in Kalumbila was 233,000 tonnes for the full year and 61,000 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2021, 18,000 tonnes and 2,000 tonnes lower than 2020 levels, respectively.