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'Came very close to an agreement' - First Quantum mulls options now deadline is passed

Kitco News

First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) said today that it almost settled its dispute with the Panamanian government before running through the government-imposed deadline to make a deal.

“[First Quantum] made significant progress in negotiations with the Government of Panamá over the past several weeks and came very close to an agreement to secure the long-term future of the Cobre Panamá mine before the Government halted discussions and announced plans to order MPSA to suspend operations," said the company in a news release.

While the December 14 deadline has passed, a government official told EcoTVPanama First Quantum's Cobre Panamá mine continues to operate and closure is not immediate.

First Quantum's stock has slid 14% this week to $26.93 a share.

The dispute involves royalty payments.

"Our most recent proposal would make Cobre Panamá one of the highest payers of royalties amongst copper-producing nations in the Americas," wrote the company.

The company said it now considering next steps.

"In the meantime, we are doing everything possible to support the Cobre Panama workforce, preserve the value and integrity of the mine and defend First Quantum and its stakeholders from the Government’s unnecessary actions, including through all available legal means,” said the company.

First Quantum is one of the world’s top 10 copper producers. In Q3 the company reported net earnings of $113 million.

Minera Panamá, S.A. (“MPSA”), is the operating subsidiary of First Quantum.

CORRECTION: First Quantum's Cobre Panamá mine continues to operate and closure is not immediate, according to a gov't official.

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