First Quantum CEO says tentative tax pact with Panama could be finalized by end of next month – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 8, 2023)

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has reached a tentative agreement with Panama that would end a bitter tax dispute and head off a shutdown of the company’s biggest copper mine.

The Vancouver-based miner announced on Wednesday it would pay a minimum of US$375-million in taxes a year to Panama, with built-in downside protection that would reduce the payments if there were a steep fall in the price of copper.

The pact is subject to a 30-day public consultation period, and must be approved by Panama’s government. It has a term of 20 years and carries an option to extend for an additional 20 years.

Late last year, Panama ordered First Quantum’s giant Cobre Panama mine to close after the company missed a deadline to sign a new tax agreement. While the mine had remained open pending an appeal, the Central American country recently prevented First Quantum from sending copper out of the country, and forced it to halt the processing of ore.

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