First Quantum Reiterates 2020 Guidance, Jumps 40%

March 24, 2020 03:35 PM PST

Kansanshi Mine, image courtesy First Quantum ©2020

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX: FM) jumped more than 40% on Tuesday after releasing an update in which it optimistically reiterated its 2020 guidance in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company says that production, sales, and shipping haven't yet been significantly disrupted, though several contractors at its Cobre Panama open-pit mine tested positive for COVID-19. Despite this, the Panamanian government has given express executive permission for the mine to continue operating with a reduced labour force. Commencing operations last September, Cobre Panama is one of the biggest new copper mines of the past ten years, from which First Quantum expects between 285,000 to 310,000 ounces of copper this year. Production for the first half the year is expected to decline, but the company is hopeful it can make up for it with "better than planned" production in the second half.

Panama reported a 30% jump in coronavirus cases today, with 68 new cases bringing the total to 313. Meanwhile, First Quantum says it's prepared with quarantine measures at its other mines "as necessary," and that is managing "country-by-country restrictions" as they arise.

Elsewhere, First Quantum says that operations at its Zambian Kansanshi and Sentinel mines have so far slightly exceeded expectations.

It also said that in anticipation of increased costs for travel and health protocols alongside depressed commodity prices expected into 2021, it is working to reduce operating costs. This includes a 20% temporary reduction "for certain senior staff" including its CEO, Philip K.R. Pascall.

Shares of First Quantum are trading in a wide 52-week range of $4.72 and $16.63. The company was reportedly investigating takeover options last fall, and in December Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd paid $1.1 billion to take an 18% stake.

Today, First Quantum is up $2.11 to $7.15 per share.

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