The Guelb Moghrein copper-gold operation is 100% owned by Mauritanian Copper Mines (MCM), a First Quantum subsidiary. The mine is located 250 kilometres northeast of the nation’s capital, Nouakchott, near the town of Akjoujt.
The Guelb Moghrein deposit was first developed in the early 1970s by Anglo American Corporation but was closed in 1977 due to technical difficulties and high fuel prices. First Quantum acquired an 80% interest in the asset in 2004 and achieved commercial production in 2006. In 2010, the Company increased its ownership in Guelb Moghrein to 100%.
In addition to the Guelb Moghrein mining concession, First Quantum holds seven exploration concessions in the area around the mine totaling 5,581 square kilometres of ground.
Mining started in April 2006. Commissioning of the copper flotation plant commenced in July 2006 and commercial production began in October 2006. In October 2009, the mining rate was increased to 3.8 million tonnes of ore per year at a strip ratio of 3:1 (waste to ore). On average, sufficient ore is stockpiled for two to three month’s feed to the plant.
Mining is carried out in a single open pit using hydraulic excavators and mechanical drive haul trucks. Sulphide ore is treated in the processing plant to produce a copper-gold concentrate from the copper flotation circuit and doré bullion from the gold flotation/carbon-in-leach circuit.
The plant currently produces approximately 17,000 tonnes of concentrate per month at a grade 22.5% copper with credits received for gold in concentrate and gold in bullion.
Process plant enhancements continue with a focus on better availability in the grinding circuit to achieve more consistent operation at steady state to maintain throughput rates as ore grades are expected to be slightly lower than those in 2012. The project to install a new SAG mill is now under design and planning. Commissioning is expected in mid-2014.