Canadian copper producer First Quantum on Thursday reported its highest ever annual production. The company also said that it could increase its output by up to 25% this year.
First Quantum, which declared commercial production at its Cobre Panama mine this past October, produced 702,000 tonnes of copper in 2019, an increase of 96,000 tonnes over 2018. Production in the fourth quarter alone was 204,000 tonnes, with Cobre Panama contributing 60,000 tonnes.
Cobre Panama’s final mill came on line in mid-December, the company said, which would provide additional capacity on the third milling train. Mill throughput could now ramp up to a production rate of 85 million tonnes a year.
For 2020, First Quantum forecasts copper production across its operations to fall between 830,000-880,000 tonnes. It also expects to produce 280,000-300,000 ounces of gold and 15-20 tonnes of nickel.
At Cobre Panama, the miner estimates that 285,000-310 000 tonnes of copper and 120,000-130,000 ounces of gold will be produced this year. The Kansanshi mine in Zambia is expected to produce 220,000-235,000 tonnes of copper and 120,000-130,000 ounces of gold. The Sentinel mine — also in Zambia — is forecast to produce 230,000-240,000 tonnes of copper.
In 2021 and 2022, the company’s copper production is forecast to be between 800,000-850,000 tonnes.