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Canada’s First Quantum suspends Panama mine activities

Ottawa (AFP) – Canadian mining giant First Quantum Minerals announced Thursday the suspension of its operations at a major mine in Panama, saying it was being blocked from exporting copper abroad.

The move to suspend processing operations at the Cobre Panama mine, putting some 8,000 employees and contractors out of work, is the latest escalation in a dispute with the Panamanian government over taxes and royalties.

In a statement, the Toronto-based company said the stoppage “is the result of the Panama Maritime Authority’s refusal to permit copper concentrate loading operations at the mine’s port, Punta Rincon.”

Cobre Panama is considered the largest private investment in the Central American nation’s history, making up four percent of its GDP and accounting for 75 percent of export revenues.

Negotiations on a new contract at the huge open pit mine have been underway for more than a year but have deadlocked on the issue of how much the company would pay to Panama.

Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo increased pressure on the company by ordering the closure of the mine in December, but First Quantum said operations had actually never stopped.

Those talks are continuing, First Quantum Minerals said Thursday.

Source: france24