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First Quantum to build nickel mine in Finland

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. said on Monday its board has approved construction of the $400-million (U.S.) Kevitsa nickel and copper project in Finland, with commercial production targeted for mid-2012.

Vancouver-based First Quantum acquired the project when it bought Scandinavian Minerals last year, and it would represent its first operation outside of Africa.

"This development is a major step in our goal of becoming a globally diversified base metals company," First Quantum chief executive officer Philip Pascal said in a statement.

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Kevitsa currently has ore reserves of 107 million tonnes grading 0.296 per cent nickel, 0.272 per cent nickel in sulphide form, and 0.418 per cent copper.

The project is expected to be financed by a combination of stock and loans, including through Nordic institutions, the company said.

First Quantum currently operates mines in Democratic Republic of Congo and Mauritania, and is in the midst of a dispute with DRC over the contract for its Kolwezi copper tailings operation, which is currently suspended.

The company recently agreed to buy Zambian-focused Kiwara PLC for about $260-million for its Kalumbila copper project.

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