First Quantum restarts Cobre Panama operations

The Cobre Panama mine is located in Colon province, 120 km west of Panama City. Credit: First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) is resuming full production at its Cobre Panama copper operations following a three-month work interruption due to covid-19, the company announced on Tuesday.

First Quantum has received notice from the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Panama (MINSA) lifting the temporary suspension of mining activities at the Cobre Panama site, which had been in preservation and safe maintenance mode since early April.

Last month, the company urged the government to allow for a gradual resumption of operations at the Cobre Panama mine, one of the few large copper projects to have come online over the past two years. First Quantum noted that the mine suspension could cost the company between $4 million and $6 million per week.

No cases of covid-19 have been detected on the Cobre Panama site since April 30

The company will implement a reopening plan that provides for a phased increase of on-site personnel while production is ramped up to 85 million tonnes per annum annualized throughput rate. There are currently approximately 800 personnel on-site, which will be gradually increased in compliance with Cobre Panama’s reopening plan and in line with MINSA guidelines.

First Quantum said the operation is expected to ramp up to full production by mid-August, depending on successful implementation of the reopening plan. No cases of covid-19 have been detected on the Cobre Panama site since April 30.

The company added that it will provide updated 2020 production guidance for Cobre Panama with the second-quarter results later this month.

Shares of First Quantum Minerals rose 1.6% on the TSX by midday Tuesday. The Vancouver-based miner has a market capitalization of over C$7.8 billion.