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First Quantum Minerals books record FY'19 copper output

Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. on Jan. 9 reported preliminary copper production of 204,000 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2019, with full-year 2019 output hitting a record 702,000 tonnes.

In 2018, the company produced 158,000 tonnes of copper in the fourth quarter and 606,000 tonnes in the full year.

Gold production in the quarter surged to 78,000 ounces from 48,000 ounces in the year-ago period, and full-year output rose to 257,000 ounces from 185,000 ounces.

Zinc output in the fourth quarter of 2019 dropped to 3,000 tonnes from 8,000 tonnes in the comparative period. Full-year 2019 production fell to 18,000 tonnes from 27,000 tonnes.

First Quantum provided a 2020 production guidance range of 830,000 to 880,000 tonnes of copper, 280,000 to 300,000 ounces of gold and 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of nickel.

For 2021 and 2022, annual output targets were set at 800,000 to 850,000 tonnes of copper, 280,000 to 300,000 ounces of gold and 25,000 to 28,000 tonnes of nickel.

The company noted that the eighth and final mill at its Cobre Panama copper mine in Panama went online in December 2019, allowing a mill throughput ramp-up to 85 million tonnes per annum.

First Quantum reportedly plans to invest US$1 billion to increase annual production from the Kansanshi copper mine in Zambia to 300,000 tonnes from a projected 235,000 tonnes in 2019.

The company recently sought to boost its defenses against a possible takeover by launching a shareholder rights plan that allows shareholders to buy more First Quantum shares at a "substantial" discount if any investor acquires 20% or more of the company.