Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM), asked the Panamanian Ministry of Health to allow the company to restart operations as soon as possible.
This, after the Ministry placed the Cobre Panamá operation on the last block of its gradual process to reactivate the country’s economic sectors, amidst the covid-19 pandemic.
Even though non-metallic mining was placed on the second block out of six, the fact that Cobre Panamá reported over 200 positive cases of covid-19 and that five people died of the disease, pushed it to the last reopening phase whose start date has not been set.
Talking to local media, however, spokesman Manuel Aizpurua said that there is no reason for authorities to fear a new outbreak at the mine because strict biosafety mechanisms have been put in place.
Aizpurua recalled that the Ministry’s own Resolution No. 1257 states that the company is following the required covid-19 protocols.
The executive also said that they have carried out 3,000 serologic tests and that their epidemiologic curve has been flat since May 11, 2020.
At present, about a thousand workers remain at the site, some operating a 300-megawatt thermoelectric plant, transmission lines and substations, others monitoring and maintaining the tailings facility and chemical warehouse. Almost a hundred people have been tasked with the cleaning and disinfecting of all areas, while some others remain in charge of the port where coal is delivered to feed the mine’s plant. Extractive activities, however, have been halted.
According to Minera Panamá, they need to bring back 3,500 workers so that operations can gradually resume.
The miner employs about 7,000 people and does business with 1,400 external suppliers.