Franco-Nevada and partner First Quantum, after first being notified of such by government officials in mid-December, confirmed it will be preparing the Cobre Panama copper operation to enter a care-and-maintenance mode.
The companies said they are responding to a direction from the Ministry of Commercia and Industries related to the mine and developing a preparation plan to cease operations. Current operations have not been impacted, and a projected date for the idling was not made available.
First Quantum, which owns 90% of the mine (Korea Resources holds the remainder), was first given notice of the regulators’ plan on 16 December. First Quantum and its subsidiary Mineral Panama (MPSA) have taken steps under domestic legal proceedings in Panama and international arbitration as a precautionary measure.
Officials made no further comment on the directive.
Throughput at Cobre Panama in 2021 was 81 Mt/y, with its plant operating at an annualized rate of 85 Mt for several months. The owner was executing the 100-Mt/y expansion project with completion of construction works and commencement of commissioning targeted for the first quarter of this year that would have allowed for a ramp-up of production in 2023 towards a target of 100 Mt/y by year-end.
Cobre Panama has a planned mine life in excess of 35 years.