First Quantum considers copper portfolio expansion to meet supply crunch ahead

9 July 2014 (Last Updated July 9th, 2014 18:30)

First Quantum Minerals is looking to expand its copper asset portfolio to benefit from the copper supply shortage that it is expected to hit businesses by 2020.

First Quantum Minerals is looking to expand its copper asset portfolio to benefit from the copper supply shortage that it is expected to hit businesses by 2020.

As part of the efforts, the company signed a deal to buy Argentina's Lumina copper mine for C$470m last month, Bloomberg reported.

Earlier in 2013, First Quantum acquired Inmet Mining in order to acquire the Cobre Panama project, which is a large copper porphyry deposit located approximately 120km west of Panama City in the Donoso District.

In January, the company announced that its $6.43bn investment plan in the Cobre Panama project would produce 320,000t of copper a year by 2018.

"Anything we do in future is much more likely to be more development projects because that's where we really add the value."

Plans are also underway to start commercial production at First Quantum's Sentinel copper mine by the end of the year, which is expected to produce around 270,000t to 300,000t of copper annually.

The Sentinel project is located approximately 150km west of Solwezi in north-west Zambia; it is being developed by First Quantum through its subsidiary, KALUMBILA Minerals, as part of the Trident project.

First Quantum Minerals president Clive Newall was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that copper remains the company's favourite long-term commodity.

"The supply constraints are really going to start to hit home later in this decade and the supply-demand balance is going to roll over at some point in the not-too-distant future," Newall said.

"So anything we do in future is much more likely to be more development projects because that's where we really add the value."

According to the Bloomberg data, there is a greater interest in copper assets among companies, with the value of deals rising to $7.1bn, five times more than last year.

The recent big ticket acquisitions in the copper sector include a $5.85bn deal by China Minmetals-led group in April to buy Las Bambas copper deposit from Glencore.

Energy