First Quantum copper mine ships first concentrates

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. [FM-TSX] said Monday June 24 that it has reached a key milestone at the world’s largest new copper mine. The company said it has shipped out the first concentrates from the production site at its 90%-owned Cobre Panama copper-gold mine in Panama.

The first shipment carried 31,000 tonnes of wet concentrate, an amount that equates to 8,000 tonnes of contained copper. A second vessel carrying 44,000 tonnes of wet concentrate, or 11,000 tonnes of contained copper, is expected to depart in the next few days.

First Quantum has said it believes 2019 will be a pivotal year as it continues with the ramp up of its huge Cobre Panama Project where commercial production is anticipated by the fourth quarter of 2019.

Cobre Panama is located in the Panama jungle, about 120 km west of Panama City. The concession consists of four zones, covering 13,600 acres. First Quantum recently increased its stake in the open pit project to 90%.

Proven and probable reserves stand at 3.1 billion tonnes, averaging 0.38% copper, 0.07 g/t gold, 1.3 g/t silver and 0.006% molybdenum.  That material is estimated to be sufficient to support a mining operation for 40 years.

The reserves contain 11.8 million tonnes of copper and 7.3 million ounces of gold.

The $6.4 billion operation produced its first copper at the end of March, 2019 and is on track to produce between 140,000 and 175,000 tonnes of copper this year, rising to between 270,000 and 300,000 tonnes in 2020. Over 80% of the output this year is expected to be produced in the second half of 2019.

On Monday, First Quantum shares rose 3.01% or 36 cents to $12.31 on volume of 1.3 million. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $9.45 and $20.63.

The concession rights for the Cobre Panama Project were obtained in 1997 under Law 9 by Minera Petaquilla, now known as Minera Panama SA. Minera Panama is a majority owned subsidiary of First Quantum.

Aside from Panama Cobre, First Quantum has major interests in seven mining operations located in Zambia, Spain, Finland, Australia and Turkey.

The company posted net earnings attributable to shareholders of US$53 million or $0.08 per share in the first quarter ended March 31, 2019, and cash flow from operating activities of US$159 million.

First Quantum produced 139,969 tonnes of copper in the first quarter of at an all-in sustaining cost of US$1.77 a pound. That amount included 25 tonnes of pre-commercial production at Cobre Panama.

At the close of the first quarter, First Quantum had US$850 million in net unrestricted cash and cash equivalents. The company recently said power station construction and commissioning is now complete at Cobre Panama.

First Mining Gold launches 2019 drilling, stock rallies

First Mining Gold Corp. [FF-TSX; FFMGF-OTCQX; FMG-FSE] shares rallied Monday June 24 after the company said it has launched the 2019 drilling program at its Goldlund gold project in northern Ontario.

The 2019 campaign follows on from the successful 2017 and 2018 drill programs at Goldlund which yielded strong results, resulted in an updated NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate for the project, and confirmed the potential of the Miller prospect.

First Mining shares advanced on the news, rising 9.76% or $0.02 to 22.5 cents on volume of 976,583 shares traded. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of 20.5 cents and 46 cents.

First Mining Gold is an emerging development company with a diversified portfolio of gold projects in North America. It has assembled a resource base of 7.3 million ounces of gold in the measured and indicated categories and 3.6 million ounces of gold in the inferred category in eastern Canada.

They include the Goldlund Project, which covers 28,572 hectares and is located 60 km northeast of Dryden, northern Ontario. The property has been extensively explored and hosted an underground and open pit mine between 1982 and 1985.

WSP Canada Inc. was commissioned last year to issue an updated NI 43-101-compliant mineral resource estimate for the project and complete a technical report.

The project contains an indicated resource of 12.86 million tonnes of grade 1.96 g/t gold, containing 809,000 ounces. On top of that is an inferred resource of 18.4 million tonnes, grading 1.49 g/t gold, or 876,954 ounces.

First mining acquired the asset in June 2016 via an amalgamation with Tamaka Gold Corp., a privately-held exploration company that owned the Goldlund project.

“We are very excited to announce the start of drilling at Goldlund, a key asset for First Mining,” said First Mining CEO Daniel Wilton. “The 2018 regional drill program confirmed that the geology and mineralization at the main Goldlund deposit has been demonstrated by Miller, which is located 10 km northeast and along strike of the current resource area,” Wilton said.

“As such, this corridor is a priority exploration area for potential resource growth and a focus for the company’s 2019 work program,” he said.

Wilton went on to say that this work will continue to advance First Mining’s understanding of Goldlund’s significant exploration upside, with a focus on unlocking the project’s size and district scale potential.

The initial work program at Miller will include 3,000 metres of step-out drilling, consisting of 14 drill holes planned along strike, both to the northeast and southwest of the area drilled in 2018. The drilling will test a total strike length of up to 900 metres, along 50-metre to 200-metre centres.

The work plan follows up on strong results achieved in 2018, which included 108 metres of 2.43 g/t gold in drill hole MI-18-002.

None of the 2018 drill results from Miller were included in the 2019 updated mineral resource estimate for Goldlund. The likelihood of further drilling at Miller in 2019 will be determined after this initial step-out phase, the company said.

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Gold’s rally gains more momentum

The gold rally is gaining steam. As prices climbed above Friday’s high of $1 415.40, bulls came charging in. Futures contracts equal to more than one-million ounces of gold traded in the five minutes ended 11:20 a.m. on the Comex in New York, extending the metal’s rally to the highest in almost six years.

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