First Quantum receives interest in Zambia copper mines

Multiple suitors have expressed interest in acquiring a minority stake in First Quantum Minerals’ Zambian copper operations, as the Canadian mining company seeks to mitigate financial setbacks stemming from the closure of its flagship mine in Panama.

According to Bloomberg reports, Robert Harding, Chairman of First Quantum, disclosed that the company has entered into non-disclosure agreements with several parties interested in investing in the African mines. Harding anticipates granting access to data for due diligence soon, although no specific timeline or details regarding the interested parties were provided.

In an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, Harding stated, “We are in the process of making the data room accessible for interested parties to review, but there is no fixed timeframe. It will take as long as necessary for these organizations to examine the data and formulate proposals.”

Following the closure of its Cobre Panamá mine last year, First Quantum has faced financial challenges, as the mine contributed approximately 40% of its revenue. The company’s net debt rose to $6.42 billion by the end of December, with nearly 121,000 dry tonnes of copper from the closed mine remaining unsold.

To strengthen its financial position, the company secured a $500 million (C$672.83 million) investment from Chinese state-owned Jiangxi Copper, its largest shareholder, last month. Additionally, it raised approximately $1.15 billion through stock sales and garnered $1.6 billion from a notes offering. Furthermore, it is exploring the possibility of divesting smaller mining assets.

First Quantum’s Zambian copper assets comprise the Sentinel and Kansanshi mines. Zambia contributed roughly half of the company’s copper output and revenue last year, generating over $450 million in operating profit.

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