First Quantum Acquiring Lumina Copper and its Taca Taca Copper Project

A preliminary estimate of project development cost for the Taca Taca deposit, shown here in the background, is $3 billion
for a 120,000-mt/d mining operation and a conventional mill producing an average of 244,000 mt/y of copper in concentrate.
(Photo courtesy of Lumina Copper)
First Quantum Minerals and Lumina Copper have entered into a definitive agreement whereby First Quantum will acquire Lumina for cash and shares in a transaction that values Lumina at about C$470 million. Lumina is 100% owner of the Taca Taca copper deposit in the Puna region of Salta province in northwest Argentina.

Taca Taca currently has NI 43-101-compliant indicated mineral resources estimated at about 9.6 million metric tons (mt) of copper contained in 2.17 billion mt grading 0.44% copper, 0.08 g/mt gold, and 0.013% molybdenum, plus inferred mineral resources estimated at approximately 3.4 million mt of copper contained in 921 million mt grading 0.37% copper, 0.05 g/mt gold, and 0.012% molybdenum, using a 0.3% copper equivalent cut-off.

Lumina announced the results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of the Taca Taca project in April 2013. The study considered an open-pit mine operating over a 28-year mine life, delivering 120,000 mt/d of throughput during the initial seven years to a conventional, two-line mill and concentrator. The PEA included an expansion of the concentrator by way of a third line to accommodate a total throughput of 180,000 mt/d from year eight onward. The throughput increase would correspond to a decline in head grade as higher-grade supergene mineralization is replaced by lower-grade primary mineralization as the predominant material mined.

Taca Taca production of copper in concentrate would average approximately 244,000 mt/y over the 28-year mine life. Gold production would average 110,000 oz/y, and molybdenum production would average 4,100 mt/y. Copper production over the first seven years of the mine’s life would average 271,000 mt/y, with a peak in year two of 349,000 mt of copper.

Initial capital to develop the project was estimated at $3 billion.

Taca Taca’s copper and molybdenum concentrates would be transported by rail from the project to the port of Mejillones, near Antofagasta, in Chile. Copper concentrates would be shipped to Asian customers. Molybdenum concentrates are assumed to be sold in Chile.

The railway line connecting Antofagasta and the city of Salta, Argentina, is located about 10 km from the Taca Taca project. The line has the capacity to handle transport of all of the concentrates produced by the project. The PEA assumed that the project would operate its own fleet of locomotives and rolling stock to transport the concentrates and consumables between the mine site and port.

First Quantum Chairman and CEO Philip Pascall said, “The acquisition of Lumina is another step in First Quantum’s long-stated objective of geographical diversification through the acquisition of world-class, early-stage copper assets. Taca Taca will significantly add to First Quantum’s development pipeline and is at the stage where we can apply our resources and development expertise to realize its full potential and further add to First Quantum’s copper production profile.”

As featured in Womp 2014 Vol 07 -