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First Quantum Minerals Reports Progress in Drilling and Evaluation Program on Sentinel Deposit, Zambia

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX:FM)(LSE:FQM) has provided a progress report on the drilling and development evaluation program currently underway at its Sentinel deposit (formerly Kalumbila) which forms part of the Trident project.

Highlights

  • Resource drilling commenced in March 2010; nearly 50,000 metres completed in 148 holes to date with 14 rigs now on site
  • Detailed sections drilled through central part of the resource demonstrate excellent continuity of mineralization
  • Wide intercepts of mineralization (greater than 200 metres) encountered down dip of previous drilling
  • Drilling emphasis now moving to strike continuity and extensions
  • A timeline has been established to complete a mining licence application by Q2 2011
  • Preliminary metallurgical testwork has demonstrated that the ore can be concentrated using standard flotation technology typical to most mines in the Copperbelt
  • Social and economic studies are in progress with a view to delivering a full Environmental Impact Statement in Q2 2011
  • Regional exploration program on potential satellite copper and nickel prospects has been initiated
  • A decision to proceed with development of the project is subject to results of these resource and mine studies, securing all relevant permits and approval by the Company's board of directors

Commenting on the program to date, Mr. Philip Pascall, Chairman and CEO, said, "Based on drilling to date, we believe that this resource could be in the range of at least 300 million to 400 million tonnes at a headgrade in the range of 0.65% to 0.80% copper and as a result, the program has been extended to cover a strike length of approximately 11.5 kilometres. Assuming the results of further work are consistent with work to date, the potential exists for a larger resource. On this basis, we are carrying out an evaluation and permitting process for an operation based on an annual throughput rate of 25 million tonnes per annum. At present, based on our experience with other development projects, we expect the capital cost to develop, including the necessary infrastructure, could be in the range of $600 million to $800 million. Should the final resource estimate be closer to the upper end of our expectations, we may consider a larger operation. At this stage, both mining and processing conditions appear to be relatively straightforward, so again in comparison to other sulphide producing operations in the Copperbelt, we would expect the unit cash cost of production to be in the range of our Zambian operations. Although we do not anticipate having a NI-43-101 compliant resource for several months yet, for the purposes for our internal study, we have assumed recoveries in the range of 90% to 95% which is typical of chalcopyrite ores in the Copperbelt.

While we have set a very tight schedule to get to a potential development decision, which we anticipate could happen in Q2 2011 followed by a two and a half year construction phase leading to production in 2014, we are confident that the final resource estimate will support this approach," Mr. Pascall concluded.

The potential quantities and grades and other technical parameters discussed in this document are conceptual in nature only. There has been insufficient exploration to define a NI-43-101 compliant resource and it is uncertain whether further exploration will result in the Sentinel deposit being delineated as a mineral resource and whether the Sentinel deposit will be developed into a mine.

About the Trident Project

The Trident project comprises five prospecting licences totaling 2,300 square kilometres containing a number attractive base metal prospects including the Sentinel deposit. The Trident project, approximately 150 kilometres from Solwezi in north-west Zambia, was obtained through the acquisition of Kiwara PLC in February 2010.

Source: First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

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