Kansanshi US$1.25 billion S3 expansion on track, says First Quantum

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As part of its 2023 Preliminary Production and 2024-2026 guidance issued on Monday, First Quantum Minerals Ltd has reiterated its commitment to delivering the ‘S3 Expansion’ project at the Kansanshi mine, near Solwezi, North-Western Province. The announcement was made as part of a stock market announcement providing guidance on recent and future production across the company’s operations.

In May 2022 First Quantum reinforced its commitment to Zambia by investing US$1.25 billion in the Kansanshi mine, the largest investment into the Zambian mining industry in recent years. Known as the ‘S3 Expansion’, this investment expands the pit and the mining fleet that services it. To handle the increased volumes of ore that will be mined, the expansion includes a new processing plant as well as a US$115 million investment to enlarge Kansanshi’s state-of-the-art smelter, advancing the national objective of adding value to minerals inside Zambia. The entire project is expected to be completed in mid-2025, returning the mine to its former peak production levels and extending the life of Kansanshi until the 2040s. It will also add approximately 800 permanent jobs, and a further 1,800 during the construction phase.

Also announced in 2022 was First Quantum’s commitment to complete the Enterprise nickel mine, near Kalumbila, North-Western Province. This mine is now operational, with production having commenced in 2023.  Once in full commercial production, the Enterprise mine will be a top-10 global nickel mine, producing some 30 000 tonnes of nickel in concentrate annually, employing around 700 full-time staff, and making Zambia Africa’s pre-eminent nickel producer. Furthermore, Enterprise will produce ‘green’ nickel with a low carbon footprint, following the signing of a 100% renewable power supply agreement with ZESCO in November 2023.

First Quantum is also set to build upon its history of infrastructure development in Zambia, through collaborating with other investors on a range of private sector led renewable energy initiatives, and working with ZESCO, Zambia’s state power utility, to integrate these projects into the Zambian power grid. Among the initiatives under consideration is a TotalEnergies led solar and wind renewable energy project, worth more than US$500 million, which is currently at an advanced stage of planning. The project, tentatively scheduled for commissioning in 2027, would significantly bolster Zambia’s energy capacity, contributing more than 400 megawatts to the national grid — some 15% of current national capacity.

The company is also committed to the successful development of the Kalumbila Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ), which received government approval in September 2022. The company is actively incentivising its suppliers to establish manufacturing facilities within the Zone, to create a local mining supply economy, driving jobs and opportunities to the area.

Commenting on the 2024-2026 guidance announcement, Rudi Badenhorst, Chief Operating Officer of First Quantum Minerals Ltd, emphasised that the company’s Zambia operations were “at the heart” of its future plans.

“We are proud of our near three-decade history in Zambia, and we look forward to a bright future ahead. Enterprise will play an important role in supplying the critical minerals that the world requires in increasing volumes as it seeks to transition to a decarbonised economy.  At a local level it will, together with the Sentinel copper mine, establish Kalumbila as a multi-mineral mining hub, with an economic zone to support its development. We are also restating our commitment to delivering the Kansanshi S3 Expansion, which we expect to be completed by mid-2025. With Kansanshi and the Trident operations firing, North-Western Province is well placed to benefit in terms of livelihoods, business opportunities, and from our many social development and environmental initiatives well beyond the next decade.”

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