HomeMarket NewsMiningFirst Quantum navigates choppy waters with Panama's government over Cobre Panama

First Quantum navigates choppy waters with Panama’s government over Cobre Panama

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First Quantum is calling for the Ministry of Labour and Job Development (MITRADEL) to provide clarity on the future of workers amidst ongoing uncertainty. The company emphasizes the impact on 7,000 workers whose jobs were suspended following port blockades that disrupted operations. The miner seeks a prompt directive to address the challenges workers and their families are facing due to the lack of information.

Reflecting the urgency of the situation, the Vancouver-based miner has expressed concerns to the government regarding the funding and continuity of Cobre Panama’s rehabilitation, reforestation, and species conservation programs. These programs are currently sustained by the copper mine and contribute to the preservation of almost 20% of Panama’s protected areas.

The significance of Cobre Panama in the global copper supply chain is underscored by its production figures. In the third quarter of 2023 alone, the mine contributed 112,734 tonnes of copper, translating to $930 million in revenue, which represents an essential portion of First Quantum’s overall third-quarter revenue of $2.02 billion. Furthermore, the mine’s impact extends to its contribution of about 1.5% of the global copper supply, 5% of Panama’s GDP, and 75% of its export goods.

Given the critical nature of the situation, First Quantum has initiated international arbitration proceedings over the cancellation of its 20-year contract. The company’s subsidiary has taken the matter to the Miami-based International Court of Arbitration to safeguard its rights under the 2023 concession agreement and the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.

Notably, the contested contract, signed in October, was the outcome of 10 months of negotiations aimed at resolving years of legal uncertainty surrounding First Quantum’s rights to exploit the asset.


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