Toronto, Canada — MININGREVIEW.COM — 25 February 2009 – First Quantum Minerals – an emerging mining and mineral company, and one of the faster growing copper producers in Africa – is optimistic that it is close to wrapping up talks with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on its revised mining contract.
Speaking at an investor conference in Florida, First Quantum president Clive Newall said DRC officials themselves had said that they hoped to wrap up the loose ends of the two-year contract review this month.
“All I can say about this is that we seem to be getting close to finalisation,” he added.“We are certainly down to the short strokes right now, and I trust we’ll get an outcome very soon,” said Newall.
The mineral-rich country had announced the review of 61 mining contracts with local and foreign mining companies in 2007, aiming to overhaul deals that were agreed to during the chaos of a 1998-2003 war in the DRC.
First Quantum is based and listed in Canada, but has operations spread through the DRC, Zambia, and Mauritania. In the DRC, First Quantum owns the Frontier copper mine and the US$300 million (R3 billion) Kolwezi tailings project, but it is Kolwezi that has been subject to the contract review.
Newall said acquisitions were part of the company’s growth strategy, and added there were plenty of opportunities, given valuations among junior miners that have been hammered by weak metals prices and frozen credit markets.
He added, however, that the company would be cautious in its approach given the uncertain outlook for economic growth and metals demand.
“We, like everyone else, are keeping our powder dry until there’s a little bit more clarity on how the world is going forward," he insisted. First Quantum holds nearly 20% of Equinox Minerals, and has been seen as a logical buyer for the African-focused company.