First Quantum eyes stake sale in Panama mine – sources – by Clara Denina and Jeff Lewis (Reuters U.S. – March 24, 2020)

LONDON/TORONTO (Reuters) – Miner First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) is considering selling a minority stake in its flagship Cobre Panama copper mine to reduce debt, two banking sources familiar with the discussions said.

First Quantum’s possible move comes as global miners scramble to bolster finances strained by the coronavirus pandemic, which has battered stocks and copper prices CMCUc1. First Quantum shares are down more than 50% this year.

Total investment in Cobre Panama, located 120 km (75 miles) west of Panama City, up to 2019 stood at $6.3 billion, according to the company.

With a current market capitalization of $2.4 billion, First Quantum trades around three times its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared to an average of eight times for mining companies. Its net debt at the end of 2019 stood at $8.8 billion.

The Canadian miner will have to do more than refinance its debt after talks to sell down its Zambian mines stalled because of the outbreak, said one of the sources.

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