Protests in Panama have intensified against Canadian miner First Quantum’s local unit, Minera Panama, which operates a major copper mine. The ongoing demonstrations have caused disruptions to port operations, blocking access to the Punta Rincon port. As a result, a supply ship destined for the company’s unit in Panama has been unable to dock, forcing the captain to call the authorities for assistance.
“The illegal actions carried out by small vessels in the port of Punta Rincon have affected the delivery of supplies that are required by Minera Panama, including for energy generation,” the company stated. Despite these challenges, the ship fully complies with international safety regulations, and the crew remains safe.
Identified as the “CSL Tarantau,” the ship attempted an emergency docking but aborted the attempt to avoid any potential accidents, as reported by Panama’s National Aeronaval Service (Senan). With the protests hindering operations, ore processing at the Cobre Panama mine has been significantly reduced, posing a risk to the mine’s output.
In response to the unrest, the union for Minera Panama announced that it had reached agreements with the company to ensure worker pay, as some employees were unable to reach their jobs due to the ongoing protests.
The demonstrations began after the Panamanian government and First Quantum signed a new contract for Cobre Panama, which contributes to both global copper production and Panama’s gross domestic product. Protesting individuals argue that the terms of the contract favor First Quantum too heavily and have raised allegations of corrupt practices, which the company vehemently denies.
As the protests continue to impact operations and hamper supply chains, the situation remains tense. Efforts to find a resolution and restore normalcy to the port remain ongoing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is the cause of the protests in Panama?
The protests in Panama are a response to the contract between the Panamanian government and Canadian miner First Quantum for the operation of the Cobre Panama mine. Demonstrators believe that the terms of the contract are overly favorable to First Quantum and accuse the company of engaging in corrupt practices.
2. How have the protests affected the mining operations?
The ongoing protests have disrupted port operations, impeding the delivery of essential supplies to the Minera Panama unit. This has not only delayed the docking of a supply ship but has also reduced ore processing at the Cobre Panama mine.
3. How has the company responded to the allegations?
First Quantum has denied the allegations of corrupt practices and maintains that the contract terms are fair. The company is actively working to address the concerns raised by protesters and find a resolution to the ongoing dispute.
4. What is the significance of the Cobre Panama mine?
The Cobre Panama mine is a major copper mine that contributes to both global copper production and Panama’s gross domestic product. It represents approximately 1% of global copper production and contributes 5% to Panama’s GDP.
5. What measures have been taken to ensure worker pay during the protests?
The union for Minera Panama has reached agreements with the company to ensure worker pay despite the disruptions caused by the protests. These measures aim to support the employees who have been unable to reach their jobs due to the ongoing demonstrations.