Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) said on Thursday it had halted ore processing operations at its giant Cobre Panama copper mine, in the latest escalation of a dispute with Panama’s government over tax and royalty payments.
Negotiations between the Toronto-based miner and the country’s government over a new contract for the mine turned sour in December, when the President announced a plan to halt the operation.
The move, unusual among Latin American countries, came after the First Quantum missed a deadline to sign the new contract because it didn’t agree with the some of its terms.
Talks have continued since and, at times, they seemed to progress. Earlier this month, Panama’s maritime authority ordered First Quantum’s local unit Minera Panama to suspend loading operations at a major port, effectively blocking all exports from the mine.
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