First Quantum says copper loading suspended at Cobre Panama port

TORONTO — First Quantum Minerals Ltd. says the Panamá Maritime Authority has suspended loading operations of copper concentrate at the port for its Cobre Panama mine.

The stoppage related to the certification of the scales at the facility is the latest development in the company's dispute with Panama over tax and royalty payments.

First Quantum, which says it has submitted the required paperwork, says it may become necessary to shut the mine if concentrate is not shipped by mid-February due to limited storage capacity at the mine site.

The Panamanian government ordered the suspension of work at the mine in December after the two sides failed to reach a new profit-sharing agreement.

First Quantum has said it is prepared to agree with, and in part exceed, objectives the government outlined last year related to revenues, environmental protections and labour standards.

The company says this includes a minimum of US$375 million per year in government income, including corporate taxes and a profit-based mineral royalty of 12 to 16 per cent, with downside protections aligned with the government's position.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2023.

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The Canadian Press