ZambiaFirst Quantum Minerals started production at its Sentinel copper mine at the Trident Project, in Zambia’s North Western province on Friday.

Sentinel, which has been in construction by First Quantum Minerals since June 2012, will produce between 280 000 and 300 000 tpa of copper at full production from a large low-grade ore body containing 0.51% copper.

Ramp up to commercial production levels at the Sentinel mine can commence after power utility ZESCO energises the new power lines and is expected to be achieved later in 2015.

At full production Sentinel would employ 1 788 employees directly through First Quantum subsidiary Kalumbila Minerals and a further 1 276 contractor jobs created by the new mine.

In order to deliver the electricity needed for full production at the Sentinel mine, to cater for possible expansions at Kansanshi mine and to reinforce the national grid, 600 km of 330 000 volt transmission lines have been developed by First Quantum in partnership with ZESCO. ZESCO is expected to energise the lines in September 2015 to provide adequate electricity for the Sentinel mine to operate at full production levels.

First Quantum Minerals CEO and Chairman Philip Pascall said First Quantum remains committed to Zambia and to development of the country and opportunities for its people into the future. 2015 and 2016 will be a challenging period for many in Zambia and globally due to low commodity prices, but through dedication to efficient practices Sentinel will be able to optimise costs.”

Pascall added that the planned 55 Mtpa ore throughput at the new Sentinel mine necessitates the latest in modern mining methods, which put Zambia at the forefront of global mining technology. At this level of production and with efficiencies already being introduced to the processing plant, Sentinel stands in good stead to meet the challenges of a low commodity price environment.”

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