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Canada’s First Quantum Minerals is hoping to increase its copper production from its current 800 000 t/y output to one-million tonnes a year within the next five years.

Speaking at the second day of Paydirt’s Africa Downunder conference, in Perth, First Quantum project manager at Kanshansi,  Sean Egnar said that the company would focus on brownfield projects to reach this target.

“We are busy with an upgrade at Cobre Panama, which will see the plant move from a nominal 85-million tonne a year to 100-million tonne a year throughput per year. Kanshansi S3 will add 25-million tonnes a year to the site’s throughput and Enterprise Nickel will also come online and ramp-up to produce 30 000 t/y of nickel.

“Longer term, we have greenfields project at Taca Taca in Argentina and Haquira in Peru.”

First Quantum in May this year approved a $1.35-billion expenditure on the Kansanshi S3 expansion and the Enterprise nickel project, both in Zambia.

Since Kansanshi began producing in 2005, First Quantum has rolled out several expansions, with the operation now capable of producing 340 000 t/y of copper and more than 120 000 oz/y of gold.

When completed, the S3 expansion will comprise a standalone 25-million-tonne-a-year processing plant with a new and larger mining fleet, which will increase Kansanshi’s total yearly throughput to 53-million tonnes.

Once the expansion is completed, copper production from Kansanshi is expected to average about 250 000 t/y for the remaining life-of-mine to 2044.

Egnar said on Thursday that the majority of the capital spend for the S3 expansion would happen between 2023 and 2024, with first production from the expanded operation planned for 2025.

A related project would also see the Kansanshi smelter upgraded from 1.35-million tonnes a year to 1.6-million tonnes a year, said Egnar, noting that the project would add some additional oxygen supply, a wet electrostatic precipitator, a condenser for the Isasmelt furnace and convert an existing sulphur burning acid plant to treat the smelter off gas. This upgrade would ensure that concentrate from the Sentinel and Kansashi would be smelted in Zambia.