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Cobre Panama back in full swing ahead of schedule

First Quantum Minerals has increased its full-year copper and gold production guidance after the Cobre Panama mine achieved steady-state production sooner than planned in the September quarter.
Cobre Panama back in full swing ahead of schedule Cobre Panama back in full swing ahead of schedule Cobre Panama back in full swing ahead of schedule Cobre Panama back in full swing ahead of schedule Cobre Panama back in full swing ahead of schedule

Cobre Panama production is back up at full capacity following a March shutdown

The Canada-based company increased the lower-end of its copper guidance by 25,000 tonnes and narrowed the upper range by 15,000t to 750,000-785,000t following successive reductions through the year due to COVID-19 and the death of several Cobre Panama employees in April and May.

The company also raised gold output guidance by 15,000oz on the low end and 10,000oz on the high end for 245,000-260,000oz.

It reduced the nickel forecast for the Ravensthorpe operation, in Western Australia, to between 13,000-15,000t from 15,000-17,000t forecast previously.

Copper output for the most recent quarter rose 10% year-on-year to 211,396t on the back of record output at Sentinel, in Zambia, and Cobre Panama, in Panama.

First Quantum said Sentinel had an "exceptional" quarter that saw it achieve record copper output, up 25% yoy at 70,829t. Increased throughput and higher grades drove the improvement, while lower maintenance costs, lower fuel prices and currency depreciation drove improved unit costs.

Cobre Panama produced 62,055t copper.

The company said Las Cruces in Spain operated at normal throughput levels compared with the same period last year after a land slippage impacted it in January of 2019. "Robust performance" at Guelb Moghrein in Mauritania resulted in 8% higher production, contributing to Las Cruces, Guelb Moghrein, Cayeli in Turkey and Pyhasalmi in Finland together contributing 24,082t copper in the quarter.

CEO Philip Pascall said nearly all of the company's assets delivered lower costs and even cost records.

Company-wide all-in sustaining costs for copper fell more than 20% yoy to US$1.48/lb while total cash costs achieved a four-year low. The realised copper price was 6% higher in the period at $2.64/lb. Sentinel reached record low AISC of $1.77/lb.

Gold output in the quarter increased 4% yoy to 72,926oz.

Revenues for the quarter jumped 42% to $1.4 billion, providing $452 million in free cash flow. Headline profit doubled to $64 million, of 9c per share, beating average analyst forecasts calling for a loss of 3c per share.

Net debt fell by $113 million to $7.5 billion. At the end of the quarter, First Quantum held $915 million in cash and equivalents with available working capital of $1.1 billion.

Company shares (TSX:FM) recently achieved a 12-month high of C$14.85, and closed at $14.32 on Wednesday, capitalising First Quantum at $9.72 billion (US$7.3 billion).