Canada's First Quantum refutes $8 bln Zambian tax bill

TORONTO/LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - First Quantum Minerals on Wednesday refuted a bill of $8 billion for unpaid import duties levied against the miner by the Zambian tax authority, Chief Executive Philip Pascall said.

The dispute, which Zambia announced on Tuesday, relates to $540 million of mining equipment imported for the Canadian company's Sentinel mine. The government's claim includes $2.1 billion in penalties and $5.7 billion in interest, Pascall said on a conference call.

First Quantum shares fell 1.6 percent in early trade Wednesday to C$17.71, after dropping 12.4 percent on Tuesday before trading in its shares was halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Susan Taylor in TORONTO and Zandi Shabalala in LONDON)