Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has been taken off Rating WatchNegative and assigned a stable outlook by Fitch Ratings after its nickel-copper mine inFinland and securing a new US$1.8 billion loan and credit facility.
The rating agency also maintained First Quantum's long-term issuerdefault rating and senior unsecured ratings at B, according to a July 14statement.
Fitch believes First Quantum's credit metrics remainelevated, with funds from operations adjusted gross leverage to peak at around7.0x this year, but will decline to 5.5x by the end of 2017 and 4.0x by the endof 2018.
This decline will largely be due to higher absolute EBITDAfrom the ramp-up of the Kansanshi smelter and Sentinel mine in Zambia, together with modestcopper price increases.
Following the recent refinancing, Fitch sees First Quantum'sliquidity as adequate.
Over the three years to the end of 2018, the rating agencyestimates that the company will have aggregate negative free cash flow ofaround US$1.5 billion and scheduled debt repayments of US$886 million.
Fitch said this primarily reflects the ongoing developmentof Cobre Panama, which is scheduled to begin production by the end of 2018.
While First Quantum has taken steps to reduce 2016 CapEx toaround US$1 billion, largely through the reduction and deferral of US$940million of CapEx at Cobre Panama, Fitch expects CapEx to average US$1.2 billionper year in 2017 and 2018, resulting in negative free cash flow during theperiod.
Fitch noted that it expects absolute debt levels to peak ataround US$6.5 billion this year and remain above US$6 billion over the periodto 2018.
The latest ratings action follows a of S&P Global Ratings'outlook for First Quantum to stable from negative.
S&P Global Ratingsand SNL Metals & Mining, an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence,are owned by S&P Global Inc.