First Quantum Minerals Provides Update on Kansanshi and Enterprise Mineral Resource and Reserve Estimates

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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec 4, 2012) - First Quantum Minerals Ltd. ("First Quantum" or the "Company") (FM.TO)(FQM.L) is pleased to provide the following update on the Kansanshi and Enterprise mineral resource and reserve estimates in Zambia.

Highlights:

Kansanshi, Zambia

  • Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource upgraded to 744.3 million tonnes ("Mt") @ 0.86% Total Copper (TCu)
  • This includes the maiden Indicated Mineral Resource of SE Dome of 54.0Mt @ 0.9% TCu
  • 121% increase in the combined Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource tonnes, 74% increase in contained copper,* under the same classifications
  • Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves upgraded to 725.6 Mt @ 0.82% TCu
  • 178% increase in Proved and Probable Reserve tonnes, 106% increase in contained copper* (excluding stockpiles)
  • Inferred Mineral Resource of 365.5 Mt @ 0.71% TCu provides opportunity for further expansion through infill drilling
  • Uplift in Mineral Resources and Reserves fully justifies the proposed doubling of Kansanshi processing to 50 million tonnes per annum ("Mtpa")
  • Mine life extended to 16 years - at the increased 50Mtpa throughput rate
    * Compared to last published Resource/Reserve statement - see March 2012 AIF

Enterprise, Zambia:

  • Maiden Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource: 40.1Mt @ 1.07% Ni
  • Maiden Mineral Reserve: 32.7 Mt @ 1.10% Ni
  • Confirms potential for an operation producing on average 38,000 Ni per annum with scope to increase to - 60,000t Ni per annum when economics allow
  • Further potential to expand Mineral Resource and Reserve on the Enterprise South West Zone

Ahead of the imminent meeting of the First Quantum Board of Directors, these Mineral Resources and Reserves establish the basis for the second phase expansion at Kansanshi involving the sulphide treatment facilities, and the Sentinel plant enhancements required to process Enterprise ore.

KANSANSHI COPPER AND GOLD MINE

Mineral Resource Summary

The Kansanshi copper mine is located at Solwezi in the North-West Province of Zambia. This large-scale, open pit mine has been operated by the Company since initial construction was completed in 2004. Since this time, various upgrades have been undertaken and the mine currently has the capacity to treat approximately 25.0 Mtpa of ore through a series of process streams required to treat the oxide, mixed and sulphide ore types.

A major Mineral Resource delineation drill program has been undertaken over the past two years aimed at identifying the extent of this substantial mineralized system. In excess of 120,000 metres have been drilled across the Main and North West pits together with near mine "step out" drill lines. In addition, a new discovery at SE Dome only 2 km from Main pit has had its economic potential confirmed with a maiden Mineral Reserve now established.

The Resource modelling and estimation has been an on-going process during the year and has been undertaken by CSA Global (UK) in conjunction with the First Quantum geological team. An interim Mineral Resource estimate produced in July 2012 has subsequently been updated with additional drill hole information up until the end of October 2012. This update was finalized in November 2012 and is shown in Table 1.0. The SE Dome Mineral Resource was also developed by CSA Global (UK) and was completed in August 2012 and this is also shown in Table 1.0.

The Mineral Resource for the combined Main and North West regions includes a total of 690.0 Mt @ 0.86% TCu defined by a cut-off grade of 0.3% TCu in the Measured and Indicated classification plus an additional 344.5 Mt @ 0.7% TCu in the Inferred classification.

The Mineral Resource for the SE Dome includes 54.0 Mt @ 0.9% TCu defined at a cut-off grade of 0.3% TCu in the Indicated classification plus an additional 20.8 Mt @ 0.91% TCu in the Inferred classification.

Table 1.0 Kansanshi Main, North West and SE Dome combined Mineral Resource Estimates 
 
KANSANSHI MINERAL RESOURCE AT 30th NOVEMBER 2012
(ABOVE 0.3% TCu CUT-OFF)
Pit Class Mtonnes TCu ASCu TCu metal
      (%) (%) (kt)
MAIN & Measured 88.9 1.10 0.48 974
NW Indicated 601.1 0.83 0.19 4,967
  Total M+I 690.0 0.86 0.23 5,942
  Inferred 344.4 0.70 0.04 2,401
SE DOME Measured - - - -
  Indicated 54.2 0.90 0.04 486
  Total M+I 54.2 0.90 0.04 486
  Inferred 20.8 0.91 0.03 188
TOTAL Measured 88.9 1.10 0.48 974
  Indicated 655.4 0.83 0.18 5,453
  Total M+I 744.3 0.86 0.21 6,427
  Inferred 365.2 0.71 0.04 2,589

The updated Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource for Main, North West and SE Dome regions represents a substantial increase when compared with values published in the March 2012 AIF. Initial comparative estimates show that the Mineral Resource tonnage has increased by some 121%, and total contained copper metal by 74%. The Inferred Mineral Resources has increased by greater amounts and these largely adjacent regions will now be the focus of the targeted in-fill drilling program for 2013.

The SE Dome provides for future flexibility in terms of the opening up of mining regions in predominantly sulphide mineralization; again drilling will continue in 2013.

The majority of the Mineral Resource increase is associated with sulphide mineralization which is significant when determining the optimal development strategies for Kansanshi; and it is now feasible for the expanded life of mine to be determined which adds great confidence to the proposed processing expansion projects.

Mineral Reserve Summary

The Mineral Reserves are defined using the July 2012 Mineral Resource model that was prepared by CSA Global (UK) as part on the on-going resource development strategy during the year. The Mineral Reserves were developed using current economic and physical parameters using the Whittle optimization process; plus utilizing a copper price of $3.00/lb and a gold price of $1200/oz.

The final mine designs for the combined Main and North West Pit and SE Dome pit was undertaken by Cameron Mining Consulting Ltd. Given that the Mineral Resource has now been updated in November 2012, work on a further Mineral Reserve update will commence immediately.

The Mineral Reserve for the combined Main, North West and SE Dome pits are defined at 725.5 Mt @ 0.82% TCu and 0.15g/t Au in the Proved and Probable classification as shown in Table 2.0.

Table 2.0 Mineral Reserve for the combined Main, North West and SE Dome
 
MINERAL RESERVE AT 30thJUNE 2012
(AT $3.00/lb Cu and $1200/ounce Au)
Leach Ore
Pit Class Mtonnes TCu ASCu Au TCu
 metal
Au
 metal
  (%) (%) (g/t) (kt) (t)
MAIN & Proved 31.3 1.84 1.18 0.22 574 7
NW Probable 59.5 1.75 1.01 0.20 1,039 12
  Total P+P 90.8 1.78 1.07 0.21 1,614 19
SE DOME Proved - - - - - -
  Probable 0.5 0.94 0.43 0.07 4 0
  Total P+P 0.5 0.94 0.43 0.07 4 0
TOTAL Proved 31.3 1.84 1.18 0.22 574 7
  Probable 60.0 1.74 1.00 0.20 1,044 12
  Total P+P 91.3 1.77 1.06 0.21 1,618 19
Mixed Ore
Pit Class Mtonnes TCu   Au TCu
metal
Au
metal
  (%)   (g/t) (kt) (t)
MAIN & Proved 29.1 0.75   0.16 219 5
NW Probable 122.7 0.89   0.15 1,087 18
  Total P+P 151.8 0.86   0.15 1,306 23
SE DOME Proved - -   - - -
  Probable 9.7 1.30   0.22 126 2
  Total P+P 9.7 1.30   0.22 126 2
TOTAL Proved 29.1 0.75   0.16 219 5
  Probable 132.5 0.92   0.15 1,214 20
  Total P+P 161.6 0.89   0.15 1,433 25
Sulphide Ore
Pit Class Mtonnes TCu   Au TCu
metal
Au
metal
  (%)   (g/t) (kt) (t)
MAIN & Proved 41.7 0.59   0.14 248 7
NW Probable 394.1 0.60   0.13 2,360 52
  Total P+P 435.8 0.60   0.13 2608 58
SE DOME Proved - -   - - -
  Probable 36.8 0.69   0.12 255 4
  Total P+P 36.8 0.69   0.12 255 4
TOTAL Proved 41.7 0.59   0.14 248 6
  Probable 430.9 0.61   0.13 2,615 56
  Total P+P 472.7 0.61   0.13 2863 62
Total Ore
Pit Class Mtonnes TCu   Au TCu
metal
Au
metal
  (%)   (g/t) (kt) (t)
MAIN & Proved 102.1 1.02   0.17 1,041 17
NW Probable 576.4 0.78   0.14 4,486 82
  Total P+P 678.5 0.81   0.15 5,527 100
SE DOME Proved - -   - - -
  Probable 47.0 0.82   0.14 386 7
  Total P+P 47.0 0.82   0.14 386 7
TOTAL Proved 102.1 1.02   0.17 1,041 17
  Probable 623.4 0.78   0.14 4,872 89
  Total P+P 725.5 0.82   0.15 5913 106
Marginal COG - 0.25% Cu, Reserves include 5% dilution at zero grade and 95% mining recovery. Strip Ratio 1: 2.4

The uplift in the total Kansanshi Mineral Reserve is substantial when compared with previously published Mineral Reserve statements; tonnages increases in the order of 178% and contained copper by over 106%, excluding stockpile inventories. These expanded reserves can now form a solid foundation on which the expansion of treatment facilities at Kansanshi can now be finalized.

Gold production at Kansanshi has consistently been greater than the values identified in the Mineral Resource; however the lower level of geological confidence associated with the gold should be acknowledged.

ENTERPRISE NICKEL PROSPECT

Resource Estimate Summary

Enterprise is part of the Trident project which includes the Sentinel copper deposit that is currently under development. The project is located approximately 150 kilometres from Solwezi in north-west Zambia. In April 2011, large-scale mining licenses for the development of the Trident project were received from the Government of the Republic of Zambia. The licenses give First Quantum the exclusive rights to carry out mining operations on the full area of interest at Trident for a period of 25 years.

An intensive resource definition drill program has been completed over the Enterprise prospect during 2012. Recent drilling has been focused on a nearby satellite zone known as Enterprise Southwest. Some 359 diamond core holes for over 116,000 metres have been drilled as part of this program. The Enterprise Main Zone has been defined as series of relatively shallow dipping mineralized bodies covering an area of 1000 metres by 500 metres and ranging in thickness from a few metres to over 80 metres.

Resource modeling and estimation has recently been completed by CSA Global (UK). The Mineral Resource estimate for Enterprise Main Zone and Southwest Zone includes a total of 40.1Mt @ 1.07% Ni in Measured and Indicated classification plus an additional 7.0 Mt @ 0.7% Ni in Inferred classification, as shown in Table 3.0.

Table 3.0 Mineral Resources for Enterprise (Main Zone plus South West Zone)
 
Trident - Enterprise Nickel Project (Main and SW)
Mineral Resource Estimate as at 28th November 2012
Cut-off grade of 0.15% Ni
  Tonnage Grade Contained Ni
(million tonnes) (Ni %) (kilo tonnes)
Main Zone Measured Resource 2.7 1.51 41
Main Zone Indicated Resource 34.3 1.08 372
SW Zone Indicated Resource 3.1 0.60 18
Total Measured & Indicated Resource 40.1 1.07 431
Main Zone Inferred Resource 2.5 0.92 23
SW Zone Inferred Resource 4.6 0.58 27
Total Inferred Resource 7.1 0.70 50

Drilling is presently in progress over the Enterprise South West Zone with the objective of enlarging the overall Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource.

Initial metallurgical test work on samples representing a range of mineralogy, with head grades between 0.6 and 6.6% Ni, gave over 90% Ni recoveries to rougher concentrates at grades of between 14% and 17% Ni. Some nine new metallurgical core drill holes have recently been completed on the Main Zone recovering material for further metallurgical testing.

Reserve Estimate Summary

Preliminary mining studies to date are restricted to the Enterprise Main Zone and have defined a total diluted Mineral Reserve of 32.7Mt at 1.10% Ni. This assessment utilizing Whittle optimization techniques has been undertaken by DumpSolver Pty Ltd Perth WA, and has considered a Ni price of $7.50/lb The Mineral Reserves are shown in Table 4.0.

Table 4.0 Mineral Reserves for Enterprise (Main Zone only)
 
Trident - Enterprise Nickel Project (Main Zone only)
Reserve Estimate November 2012
  Tonnage Grade Contained Ni
(million tonnes) (Ni %) (kilo tonnes)
Proven 2.7Mt 1.44% 39.0
Total Probable 30.0Mt 1.08% 324.0
Total Proven & Probable 32.7Mt 1.10% 363.0
Marginal COG - 0.1% Ni, Reserves include 5% dilution at zero grade and 95% mining recovery. Strip Ratio 1: 9.27

A preliminary evaluation has identified potential to develop an operation with an annual throughput rate of 4.0 Mtpa and an average Ni annual production rate of 38,000 tonnes. However head grades may be varied to reflect changes in the Ni price cycle hence at certain times Ni production could peak at 60,000 tonnes.

As Enterprise is located just 12 kilometres north of the Sentinel project, it is expected that its development cost will benefit by sharing infrastructure, such as water supply, tailings storage facility, housing and administration, which is currently being developed for the Sentinel project. These unique and significant synergies are expected to result in Enterprise being a very low cost operation.

Qualified Persons

The updated Mineral Resource Estimate for Kansanshi has been compiled by independent consultant M. Titley of CSA Global (UK). The Mineral Resource Estimate for Enterprise has been compiled by independent consultant G. White of CSA Global (UK). The Mineral Reserves at Kansanshi have been compiled by independent consultant A. Cameron of Cameron Mining Consulting Ltd. The Reserves at Enterprise has been compiled by independent consultant N. Journet of DumpSolver Pty Ltd. All independent consultants mentioned are Qualified Persons for the purposes of National Instrument 43-101 "Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects" ("NI 43-101").

The mineral resource and reserve estimates have been made in accordance with the standards specified in NI 43-101.

On Behalf of the Board of Directors of First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

G. Clive Newall, President

12g3-2b-82-4461

Listed in Standard and Poor''s

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements and information herein, including all statements that are not historical facts, contain forward-looking statements and forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. The forward looking statements include estimates, forecasts and statements as to the Company''s mineral reserves and resources at Kansanshi and Enterprise, the Company''s expectations of the results of future drilling, the Company''s expectations of production and production cost and sales volumes, expected future production capacity, expect timing of completion of project development at Kansanshi, Sentinel and Enterprise, the impact of ore grades on future production, the potential of production disruptions, capital expenditure and mine production costs, the outcome of mine permitting, information with respect to the future price of copper, gold, cobalt, nickel, PGE, and sulphuric acid, estimated mineral reserves and mineral resources, our exploration and development program, estimated future expenses, exploration and development capital requirements, the Company''s hedging policy, and our goals and strategies. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements or information can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate" or "believes" or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved.

With respect to forward-looking statements and information contained herein, we have made numerous assumptions including among other things, assumptions about the price of copper, gold, nickel, PGE, cobalt and sulphuric acid, anticipated costs and expenditures and our ability to achieve our goals. Although our management believes that the assumptions made and the expectations represented by such statements or information are reasonable, there can be no assurance that a forward-looking statement or information herein will prove to be accurate. Forward-looking statements and information by their nature are based on assumptions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause our actual results, performance or achievements, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information. These factors include, but are not limited to, future production volumes and costs, costs for inputs such as oil, power and sulphur, political stability in Zambia, Peru, Mauritania, Finland and Australia, adverse weather conditions in Zambia, Finland and Mauritania labour disruptions, mechanical failures, water supply, procurement and delivery of parts and supplies to the operations, the production of off-spec material.

See our annual information form for additional information on risks, uncertainties and other factors relating to the forward-looking statements and information. Although we have attempted to identify factors that would cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those disclosed in the forward-looking statements or information, there may be other factors that cause actual results, performances, achievements or events not to be anticipated, estimated or intended. Also, many of these factors are beyond our control. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements or information. We undertake no obligation to reissue or update forward-looking statements or information as a result of new information or events after the date hereof except as may be required by law. All forward-looking statements and information made herein are qualified by this cautionary statement.

Contact:
First Quantum Minerals Ltd. - North American contact
Sharon Loung
Director, Investor Relations
(647) 346-3934 or Toll Free: 1 (888) 688-6577
(604) 688-3818
sharon.loung@fqml.com
First Quantum Minerals Ltd. - United Kingdom contact
Clive Newall
President
+44 140 327 3484
+44 140 327 3494
clive.newall@fqml.com
www.first-quantum.com

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