First Quantum Minerals announced introduction of ore in the first milling circuit of the Cobre Panama copper development project in Panama.
The Cobre Panama mine is located in the Donoso district in Colon province.
First Quantum said that it had introduced ore to the processing plant through primary crushing and onto the stockpile. The initial feed rates were in the range of 4,000-5,000 tons per hour, said the Canadian based mining and metals company.
First Quantum, in a statement, said: “Operation on ore continues, and will move into all other sections of the processing plant including producing copper concentrate. The Company is now focused on an efficient phased ramp-up for Cobre Panama continuing through 2019.”
About a year ago, First Quantum approved the expansion of the project’s throughput capacity, by 15%, to 85 million tons per annum (mtpa) and also upgrades to certain areas to facilitate a further increase to 100 mtpa after 2022.
The company’s board at that time also approved additional initiatives designed to achieve a smooth and efficient commissioning and ramp-up phase.
As of 12 February 2018, the total development capital for the Cobre Panama project was estimated at $6.3bn.
Under the expansion project, the company took up installation of an eight mill, which is slated for completion in the second half of this year. The mining fleet and process equipment will be expanded while additional pre-production stripping and supporting infrastructure will be installed to facilitate future expansion at the open-pit copper development project.
The expansion project is expected to continue to ramp-up during this year and reach the 85 mtpa throughput rate by next year. Through this period, contained copper production is projected to be over 150,000 tons in 2019, 270,000-300,000 tons in 2020 and up to 350,000 tons in 2021.
The Copper Panama project, which is located 120km west of Panama City and 20km from the Caribbean Sea coast, is made up of copper mine, process plant, power plant and the Punta Rincon port