Panama Tells First Quantum to Halt Flagship Mine After Talks Fail; Shares Sink – by Elida Moreno and Kylie Madry (U.S. News/Reuters – December 15, 2022)

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) -Panama’s government ordered Canada’s First Quantum Minerals on Thursday to pause operations at its flagship copper mine in the country after missing a deadline to finalize a deal that would have increased payments to the government from the mine.

The government had given Minera Panama, which is majority-owned by First Quantum Minerals, until Wednesday to sign an agreement reached in January to pay $375 million a year to the government from its Cobre Panama mine.

Panama’s government ordered the commerce and industry ministry to suspend Minera Panama’s operations at the mine after a midnight deadline was missed. First Quantum shares tumbled 14.7% in Toronto trading.

First Quantum estimates the Cobre mine to produce 340,000 to 350,000 tonnes of copper in 2022, accounting for more than 40% of its overall copper output. The company has invested $6 billion in the open-pit mine, where operations began in 2019.

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