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First Quantum suspends ore processing operations at Cobre Panama

Kitco News

(Kitco News) - First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) today announced that its subsidiary, Minera Panamá S.A. ("MPSA"), has suspended ore processing operations at the Cobre Panama mine.

The company explained that this interruption to operations is the result of the Panamá Maritime Authority's ("AMP") refusal to permit copper concentrate loading operations at the mine's port, Punta Rincón, in accordance with its Resolution No. 007-2023 (the "Resolution").

The company said it believes that all of AMP's requirements under the Resolution have been duly met and exceeded, "however, the AMP has continued to block MPSA's export operations."

First Quantum added that MPSA will begin a partial demobilization of its workforce of over 8,000 employees and contractors, "of which the impact is expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks if concentrate shipments do not resume."

In addition to workforce reductions, the mine has ceased purchasing supplies and services that are equivalent to $20 million in weekly revenues to more than 2,000 Panamanian companies, the company said.

The company and MPSA note that the above actions "may vary in magnitude depending on the duration that the operation will be halted."

"Should permission from the AMP allow it, MPSA could begin shipping concentrate and resume operations at the mine within hours," the company said.

"Negotiations with the Government of Panama on a refreshed contract are continuing. The company remains committed to achieving an outcome that will be to the benefit of all stakeholders and support the long-term operations of the Cobre Panama mine," First Quantum noted in a press release.

Cobre Panama is First Quantum's newest operation, located in Colon Province, 120km west of Panama City. With 3.0 billion tonnes of proven and probable reserves, Cobre Panama is one of the largest new copper mines opened globally in the past decade. Commercial production started in 2019 and at full current capacity, the plant will process 85Mtpa of ore to produce more than 300,000 tonnes of copper per year along with gold, silver and molybdenum.

The company indicated that Cobre Panama contributes to approximately 5 percent of Panama's GDP, makes up 75 percent of the country's export of goods and has created at least 40,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, that supports an estimated 100,000 or more Panamanians.

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