First Quantum facing shutdown of giant Panama mine in a matter of weeks, as tax dispute escalates – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – Febuary 7, 2023)

Panama’s maritime authority is crimping First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s efforts to ship copper out of the country, as the big Canadian copper miner faces the prospect of shutting down its giant Panamanian mine in a matter of weeks.

Late last year, Panama’s government ordered the Cobre Panama mine to close after the Central American country fell out with First Quantum over terms of a new fiscal agreement. The site had remained open pending an appeal with the Ministry of Commerce and Industries.

On Monday, First Quantum said Panama had issued a resolution requiring the company to suspend the loading of copper concentrate at the Punta Rincon port. That effectively prevents First Quantum from shipping its copper to export markets.

Because there is limited storage capacity at the port, the Canadian miner says it could be forced to cease operations at the mine by the middle of the month. The order by Panama is “part of a series of escalating attempts by the government to pressure the company into accepting a refreshed concession contract on the government’s terms,” First Quantum said in a release.

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