First Quantum reports record Q3 2020 copper production and cash flow

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (“First Quantum” or the “Company”) (TSX:FM) today reported results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020. The Company reported, for the three months ended September 30, 2020 (“Q3”), comparative earnings1 of $64 million ($0.09 per share1), net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company1 of $29 million ($0.04 per share1) and cash flows from operating activities of $452 million ($0.66 per share1).

“The third quarter was strong from an operational and financial perspective.  Cobre Panama restarted normal operations and was back into full production well ahead of schedule.  Almost all of our operations delivered lower costs and a number of new production and cost records were achieved.   As promised, we have maintained our focus on balance sheet de-leveraging and I am pleased to report that our net debt position is now beginning to decline. We have continued our program of active balance sheet management with the completion of a senior note offering of $1.5 billion which has been used to extend our senior debt maturities and reduce our debt service costs,” commented Philip Pascall, Chairman and CEO. “We continue to prioritize the health and safety of our workforce as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic that is now the ‘new normal’.  Despite all the challenges, our workforce and operations continue to be extremely resilient.  This has resulted in a strong operational performance, allowing us to increase our production expectations for the year at slightly improved costs. I am proud of how we continue to navigate this very challenging year while preparing the Company for continued future success.”

THIRD QUARTER SUMMARY:

  • Operation al Highlights:
    • 211,396 tonnes of total copper production2 in the quarter, 10% higher than the same period in 2019, due to record production at both Sentinel and Cobre Panama.
    • Q3 cost of copper production3: all-in sustaining cost (“AISC”) of $1.48 per lb and cash cost of copper production (“C1”) of $1.07 per lb for the third quarter of 2020, a $0.38 per lb and $0.29 per lb decrease, respectively, compared to the same period in 2019.
    • Almost all of our copper operations delivered a reduction in cash costs and total cash costs were at their lowest level in four years. Sentinel achieved a record low AISC of $1.77 per lb and C1 cash cost of $1.25 per lb, respectively. There was also a notable reduction in C1 cash cost at Guelb Moghrein, to $0.24 per lb, the lowest C1 cash cost for over a decade, and the lowest reported AISC.
    • 72,926 ounces of total gold production for the quarter, 4% higher than the same period in 2019 reflecting increased gold production at Cobre Panama.
    • Sentinel performed exceptionally in the quarter, achieving its highest ever quarterly production of 70,829 tonnes and record low cash costs. Increased throughput and higher grades resulted in the 25% increase in copper production from the same period in 2019, while lower maintenance costs, lower fuel prices and currency depreciation drove improved unit costs.
    • Performance at Cobre Panama was strong as it ramped up from preservation and safe maintenance in July to full production levels in August, slightly ahead of expectation. Copper production in the quarter was 62,055 tonnes, significantly higher than the same period in 2019.
    • Las Cruces operated at normal throughput levels compared to the third quarter of 2019, which was impacted by a land slippage in January 2019. Robust performance at Guelb Moghrein resulted in 8% higher production compared to the same period in 2019. Q3 total copper production at other operations: Las Cruces, Guelb Moghrein, Cayeli and Pyhasalmi was 24,082 tonnes.
    • Kansanshi performed consistently during the quarter. Copper production of 54,430 tonnes was slightly lower than Q3 2019 as a result of reduced grades and recoveries despite increased throughput. Cash costs were lower driven by currency depreciation and lower fuel costs.
    • The Kansanshi smelter processed 362,554 dry metric tonnes (“DMT”) of copper concentrate, produced 89,090 tonnes of copper anode with recoveries of 98%, together with 342,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid.
    • Production guidance for 2020 has been updated. Total copper production expected for 2020 has been increased to between 750,000 – 785,000 tonnes, gold production expected is now to be between 245,000 – 260,000 ounces and nickel production expectation has been reduced to 13,000 – 15,000 tonnes.

Financial Highlights

  • Sales revenues for the quarter of $1,402 million, an increase of 42% from the comparable period of 2019, were primarily driven by the commercial sales volumes of copper and gold from Cobre Panama, increased sales volumes at Kansanshi and higher realized metal prices.
  • $452 million of cash flows from operating activities ($0.66 per share1) generated during the quarter, a significant increase from the same period of 2019.
  • Gross profit of $346 million for the quarter compared to $150 million for the same period in 2019.
  • Comparative EBITDA1 of $641 million for the quarter compared to $354 million for the same period in 2019.
  • Realized price for copper of $2.64 per lb for the quarter, 6% higher than the same period in 2019. This compares to an increase of 13% in the London Metal Exchange (“LME”) average copper price, to $2.96 per lb, for the same period.
  • The Company’s copper sales hedge program reduced sales revenues by $51 million ($0.12 per lb) in the quarter, while the nickel sales hedge program contributed $2 million to sales revenues.
  • Net debt decreased during the quarter by $113 million to $7,545 million at September 30, 2020.
  • Ended the quarter with $915 million in net unrestricted cash and cash equivalents, current working capital of $1,132 million and in full compliance with all financial covenants.
  • On October 1, 2020, the Company completed the offering of $1.5 billion of Senior Notes due 2027 (“the Offering”). Interest will accrue at the rate of 6.875% per annum and will be payable semi-annually. The proceeds of the Offering were used towards the repayment of $650 million principal amount under the Company’s existing revolving credit facility, and the redemption in full of the Company’s outstanding Senior Notes due 2022. On September 18, 2020, the Company issued a notice of redemption of the 7.25% Senior Notes due 2022, and redemption at par was completed on October 19, 2020.
  • At October 28, 2020, the Company had hedge positions for 416,775 tonnes of copper using unmargined copper forward and zero cost collar sales contracts with an average floor price of $2.79 per lb and maturities to December 2021. This represents approximately half of the Company’s expected sales for the next 12 months.

1 Net earnings (loss) attributable to shareholders of the Company has been adjusted to exclude items which are not reflective of underlying performance to arrive at comparative earnings (loss). Comparative earnings (loss), comparative earnings (loss) per share, comparative EBITDA and cash flows per share are not measures recognized under IFRS and do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS. The Company has disclosed these measures to assist with the understanding of results and to provide further financial information about the results to investors. Refer to the “Regulatory Disclosures” section in the MD&A for the period ended June 30, 2020 for further information.
Production is presented on a contained basis and is presented prior to processing through the Kansanshi smelter.
3AISC, C1 and C3 costs per pound are not recognized under IFRS. Refer to the “Regulatory Disclosures” section in the MD&A for the period ended September 30, 2020 for further information. C1, C3 and AISC costs exclude third-party concentrate purchased at Kansanshi.
4 Copper sales exclude the sale of copper anode produced from third-party concentrate purchased at Kansanshi. Sales of copper anode attributable to third-party concentrate purchases were nil for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020 (nil and 1,182 tonnes for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019, respectively).
5Excludes refinery-backed gold credits purchased and delivered under the precious metal streaming arrangement.
6Adjustments to comparative EBITDA in the third quarter of 2020 relate principally to foreign exchange (foreign exchange and write-off of assets and costs associated with the land slippage at Las Cruces in 2019).
7Cobre Panama declared commercial production effective September 1, 2019. Copper production volumes includes pre-commercial production from Cobre Panama of 36,783 tonnes and 67,704 tonnes for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019, respectively. Copper sales volumes include pre-commercial sales from Cobre Panama of 42,425 tonnes and 48,967 tonnes for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019, respectively. Gold production volumes includes pre-commercial production from Cobre Panama of 13,570 ounces and 24,120 ounces for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019, respectively. Gold sales volumes include pre-commercial sales from Cobre Panama of 16,032 ounces and 18,659 ounces for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019, respectively. Pre-commercial production and sales volumes at Cobre Panama are not included in earnings, C1, C3 and AISC calculations.

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