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Canadian miner announces cessation of copper processing in Panama

This content was published on February 20, 2023 – 9:33 p.m. February 20, 2023 – 9:33 p.m

Panama City, 20 February (EFE).- The Panama subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (FQM) announced that next Thursday it will cease copper processing at the large open pit mine operating in the country amid the contractual controversy, which he has been running with the government for more than a year.

In a letter dated February 19th, to which EFE had access this Monday, the company Minera Panamá SA (MPSA) states that “as a result of the restrictions on the loading of concentrates, we have no other alternative than the processing plant this Thursday at midnight (12:00 a.m. on February 23)” at the Cobre Panama Mine.

“This suspension would result in significant and irreparable damage to the mine and all those who benefit from it,” said the letter, signed by Minera Panama Director General Alan Delaney and addressed to the Administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority. AMP), Noriel Arauz.

The Cobre Panamá mine, with an investment of approximately $10,000 million and 5,279 workers, began exporting copper ore in June 2019. According to public information, it accounts for 45% of the total production of FQM, which exploits other deposits in several countries.

Cobre Panama “currently contributes around 5% of Panama’s GDP, accounts for 75% of the country’s merchandise exports and has generated at least 40,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to MPSA estimates,” the company reiterated.

The government of Panama and the mining company began negotiations for a new concession agreement in September 2021 and announced an agreement in January 2022, but it did not result in a signature, prompting the executive branch to order the closure of mine operations last December.

The agreement, announced more than a year ago, included raising royalties from 2% to 12% to 16% and guaranteed the state a minimum annual contribution of $375 million, “10 times more” than what the company previously paid taxes so far freed.

In the letter to AMP, the mining company is requesting permission to resume cargo operations at the port of Punta Rincón, which the maritime authority suspended by decision at the end of January.

Minera Panama has lodged “several legal remedies” with the AMP, so the effects of the decision on the loading operation are “suspended”, the company argued, among other things.

“If we are allowed to load the vessel, MPSA would have the storage capacity to continue operations for approximately 15 days while discussions continue with the government for a renewed Cobre Panama concession contract. Significant progress has been made in recent weeks and we believe it is important to provide the opportunity to continue this,” the company’s letter said.

In 2017, the Panamanian Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the 1997 law that upheld the concession for the exploitation of the Cobre Panamá mine, the largest open-pit mine in Central America. EFE


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