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Frontier Mining Targets $1 Billion Market Value on Kazakh Copper

Frontier Mining Ltd. is targeting an eight-fold increase in its market capitalization to $1 billion by 2014 after the U.K. explorer starts copper production in Kazakhstan later this year.

Frontier is seeking to become the second-biggest copper producer in Kazakhstan after Kazakhmys Plc, Chief Executive Officer Erlan Sagadiev said yesterday in an interview in London. Production is slated to begin by June and reach as much as 5,000 metric tons of copper this year before ramping up to 20,000 tons in 2014, he said.

“We’ll then generate about $160 million of turnover and should be valued at north of $1 billion,” Sagadiev said. The company is currently valued at 84 million pounds ($133 million).

Copper prices have climbed 11 percent this year to $8,437 a ton on the London Metal Exchange on increased demand from Asia. At the same time, strikes and slower-than-expected projects have curtailed supply growth. Barclays Capital predicts a third consecutive copper shortage in 2012 and another one next year.

The cash cost of producing copper at Frontier’s Benkala project in northwest Kazakhstan will be about $2,300 a ton, the CEO said. That rises to about $3,800 a ton when taxes are included, he said.

The mining company has funding of $54 million in place to start operations and will need a further $35 million to meet its 2014 production target, Sagadiev said.

“We will fund this through cash flow and debt,” he said. Management would only consider selling the company once output starts and it can “realize the potential of its assets,” he said in the interview.

Frontier has already become an acquisition target for Russian, Chinese and Korean companies seeking to gain a foothold in Kazakhstan, Sagadiev said, without elaborating.

Kazakhmys, which has an annual output capacity of about 300,000 tons, is Kazakhstan’s biggest copper producer.

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