• Company weighs sale of output from mines in Finland, Zambia
  • Streaming deal would be separate from potential Kevitsa sale

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. is considering the sale of future precious metals output from some of its mines as the Canadian company looks for ways to cut debt, people with knowledge of the matter said.

First Quantum is working with Standard Chartered Plc to study options for so-called precious metals streaming transactions for mines including the Kevitsa nickel mine in Finland and the Kansanshi copper asset in Zambia, the people said, asking not to be identified as the negotiations are private. The Vancouver-based company may sell output from individual mines, pool production from several assets or choose not to conduct a streaming transaction if it receives a good price on other asset sales, the people said.

Shares in the company rose more than 10 percent in Toronto as of 9:33 a.m.

Mining companies including Glencore Plc and Teck Resources Ltd. are turning to precious metals streaming transactions to raise cash, locking in future sales of byproducts like gold, silver and platinum while keeping control of their mines. Glencore in November sold a share of its future silver output at the Antamina mine in Peru in a deal with Silver Wheaton Corp. that included a $900 million upfront payment. 

A month earlier, Vancouver-based Teck sold its share of silver at Antamina to Franco-Nevada Corp. in a similar deal. Silver Wheaton is pursuing $5 billion of streaming deals, Chief Executive Officer Randy Smallwood said in September.

Sharon Loung, a spokeswoman for First Quantum in Toronto, declined to comment. Joyce Li, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Standard Chartered, said she couldn’t immediately comment.

Cutting Costs

Kevitsa is an open-pit mine that produced 8,963 metric tons of nickel in 2013, as well as 14,775 tons of copper, 30,403 ounces of platinum and 11,723 ounces of gold, according to its website. First Quantum owns 80 percent of Kansanshi, Africa’s largest copper mine, which produced 270,724 tons of the metal and 167,395 ounces of gold that year.

First Quantum is among mining companies that are slashing costs and selling assets as a slowdown in China, the biggest metals consumer, drags down commodity prices around the world. The Bloomberg Commodity Index hit a record low on Tuesday and copper was its cheapest since 2009. 

The Canadian company said in October it plans to reduce debt by $1 billion through measures such as asset sales, job cuts and reductions in capital spending. The company’s shares have dropped 32 percent this year in Toronto trading this year.

First Quantum has also been fielding offers for the Kevitsa mine, which may fetch at least $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said last month. Miners including Boliden AB and Lundin Mining Corp. are considering final bids for the asset, which is one of the largest nickel reserves in Finland, the people said at the time.

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