Canadian mining company FQM, owner of Central America’s largest open-pit copper mine in Panama, warned on Monday that it would temporarily suspend operations if its activities continued to be hampered by protests against it that have been taking place across the country for a month. . .
In a statement, First Quantum Minerals (FQM) announced the “potential temporary suspension of its operations” due to supply shortages derived, it said, from “an illegal blockade by small vessels” in the port that provides access to the mine.
He added that the facility “has reduced its operations to a train to process crude and expects to run out of supplies to the power plant around mid-week.”
Panama is facing more than four weeks of protests against the contract signed between the country and the Canadian company, which allows the multinational company to operate for 40 years in the Caribbean region of the country.
This contract, approved by Congress on October 20, replaces the 1997 agreement, which was declared unconstitutional because it was signed without public tender or consultation.
Protesters claim that the new agreement has the same flaws and that the mine has already caused damage to the local environment.
As part of the protests, several people on small boats tried to close the port that the company built to receive supplies and remove copper production.
On Monday, the main entrances to the capital, Panama City, were closed by members of unions and grassroots organizations that oppose the mining company.
The protests left at least three dead due to incidents between opponents of the siege and protesters, in addition to more than 1,150 detainees. According to the private company, losses exceeding $1.7 billion were recorded.
Congress left the future of the contract in the hands of the Supreme Court, which, according to the government and the mining company, makes minimum annual contributions to the state of $375 million, ten times the initial agreement.
“The total economic contribution of the mine in Panama is estimated at more than $50 million per week, equivalent to about 5% of GDP,” FQM confirmed.
“This income may be affected if the mine does not continue to operate,” FQM warned.