First Quantum Minerals nickel
TSX-listed First Quantum Minerals intends to suspend operations at its Ravensthorpe nickel mine, in Western Australia, and place it on care and maintenance.

First Quantum Minerals could do this as soon as the beginning of September 2017 due to the persistently low nickel price.

It is anticipated that full care and maintenance will be in effect by early October 2017.

“This decision is disappointing to us,” says First Quantum Minerals, chairman and CEO, Philip Pascall.

[quote]“Ravensthorpe is an excellent operation with an outstanding workforce and supportive community but the continuing depressed nickel market conditions, over some years, leaves us no option.

“Over the next few weeks we will work closely with our employees and key contractors to mitigate the impact and manage carefully the staged shutdown of operations. We will be offering assistance to employees in seeking further employment opportunities.

“We extend our sincere thanks to our entire workforce, local community, all levels of government and our partners in the mining sector who have assisted Ravensthorpe since its restart in 2011,”continues Pascall.

The cost to suspend operations and enter care and maintenance is estimated at US$10 million with subsequent annual maintenance of approximately $5 million.

The permitting process for the Shoemaker Levy ore-body is planned to continue along with regular review of the market conditions for potential restart of operations. Restart cost, should favourable conditions prevail, is estimated at $10 million.

In its s Q2, 2017 results First Quantum Minerals reported a comparative loss of $18 million and cash flows from continuing operating activities of $205 million for the three months ended June 30, 2017.

The comparative loss included a $97 million loss realised under the copper sales hedge program for which no tax credit is available.

Net loss from continuing operations attributable to shareholders of First Quantum Minerals amounted to $35 million inclusive of the loss under the sales hedge program for which no tax credit is available.

“Operationally, our Kansanshi complex and Las Cruces mine turned in good results as margin improvement measures, implemented last year at Las Cruces and ongoing at Kansanshi, are making a considerable positive difference,” stated Pascall at the time.

Pyhäsalmi continued to operate profitably despite later-stage mine life conditions, Çayeli began its recovery from first quarter difficulties and Sentinel is moving progressively to steady-state operations with solid months in June and July.

“Development of our tier-one Cobre Panama project continues to advance strongly. With some challenging aspects of the project now behind us and phased commissioning within 18 months, we are building the team that will be operating the mine and processing facilities, port and power plant. This project, when in operation, will add significant geographic diversification to First Quantum Minerals.

“First Quantum Minerals’ financial position is much improved. Its debt maturity structure has been greatly strengthened following the liability management initiatives undertaken.

“With the cash generated by our operations, cash on hand, committed, undrawn credit facilities and continuing initiatives to further strengthen the balance sheet, First Quantum Minerals is well-positioned to continue to execute its strategy,” Pascall concluded.

Feature image credit: Wikimedia