First Quantum Minerals, Canada’s largest copper producer, issued a warning that it may be forced to suspend operations at its Cobre Panama copper mine if the ongoing port blockade continues to impede crucial supplies. The company stated that without shipments arriving at the Punta Rincon port, the mine will run out of supplies for its on-site power plant by the end of this week.
Protests against First Quantum Minerals have escalated, with demonstrators blocking the delivery of supplies to the mine by sea. As a result, the company has already reduced production and is now down to one ore processing train. These actions come after the government of Panama and First Quantum reached a multi-billion dollar agreement in October, ending months of negotiations. The contract has faced criticism for its lack of public input and transparency.
Locals have expressed concerns over the potential impact of the mine on drinking water and the Panama Canal, especially considering the current drought caused by El Niño. First Quantum has consistently asserted that the mine is not near any drinking water sources. President Laurentino Cortizo proposed a referendum to revoke the contract, but Parliament opted to repeal it directly. The final decision now rests with Panama’s Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the matter in mid-December.
The blockade and potential shutdown of the Cobre Panama mine have attracted international attention, with Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio joining Panamanian activists in calling for the closure of the “mega mine”. First Quantum Minerals has stated its willingness to engage in dialogue to address the concerns of various sectors of society.
The Cobre Panama mine has been in production since 2019 and contributes nearly 5% to Panama’s GDP. It is also responsible for 75% of the country’s export of goods and has created approximately 40,000 jobs directly and indirectly.
1. What is the Cobre Panama mine?
– The Cobre Panama mine is a copper mine located in Panama and operated by First Quantum Minerals.
2. What are the concerns surrounding the mine?
– Concerns include potential effects on drinking water and the Panama Canal, as well as allegations of corruption and lack of public input in the contract.
3. What is the current status of the mine due to the port blockade?
– The mine has already reduced production and may be forced to suspend operations if the blockade continues.
4. What is the significance of the mine for Panama?
– The Cobre Panama mine contributes nearly 5% to Panama’s GDP and accounts for 75% of the country’s export of goods. It has also created thousands of jobs.