Panama government orders First Quantum to end copper operations

The government order comes after Panama’s Supreme Court ruled last month that First Quantum’s contract to operate the mine was unconstitutional, following months of protests.

Cobre Panama, in production since 2019, generated 112,734 tonnes of copper in the third quarter of 2023, contributing $930 million to First Quantum’s overall third-quarter revenue of $2.02 billion.

The mine accounts for about 5% of Panama’s gross domestic product and makes up 75% of its export of goods.

Because it must close the mine, Cobre Panama said it has requested government authorization to lay off more than 4,000 of its employees. Last month, the miner suspended the contracts of 7,000 staff at the mine.

First Quantum said last week it had initiated international arbitration procedures to protect its rights under the 2023 concession agreement that the government of Panama agreed to earlier this year, as well as the Canada-Panama free trade agreement.

(With files from Reuters)

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