First Quantum (TSX: FM) said on Monday its subsidiary Minera Panama, the operator of the Cobre Panama copper mine, has suspended concentrate loading operations at the Cobre Panamá port.
According to the company, a resolution was issued by the Panamá Maritime Authority and requires the suspension of concentrate loading operations at the Cobre Panamá port until evidence is provided that the process of certification of the calibration of the scales by an accredited company has been initiated.
The miner added that it might become necessary to shut down Cobre Panama if the concentrate is not shipped by mid-February, due to limited storage capacity on site.
First Quantum Minerals and the Panamanian government have been disputing how much tax the Canadian miner should pay on its concession for the Central American country’s only major copper mine.
In December, the Panamanian chapter of Transparency International (TI) issued a communiqué denouncing what the organization deems as a lack of clarity in the negotiations between the government of President Laurentino Cortizo and Minera Panamá.
In 2021, Cobre Panama represented more than half of First Quantum’s earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization. It also accounts for about 3.5% of Panama’s gross domestic product.
The asset is estimated to hold 3.1 billion tonnes in proven and probable reserves and at full capacity can produce more than 300,000 tonnes of copper per year, or about 1.5% of global production of the metal.
First Quantum said that its subsidiary initiated the certification process by submitting the required proof to an accredited company on February 3.
(With files from Reuters)