First Quantum to evacuate 800 people from Cobre Panamá mine

(Image courtesy of Minera Panamá).

Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM), announced that it is working towards taking home some 800 people currently in preventive quarantine at its Cobre Panamá operation.

In a media statement, the miner explained that 2,000 people were stuck at the mining complex when it entered into lockdown following the detection of covid-19 infections among contractors and the death of one worker.

Cobre Panamá is 90% owned by First Quantum Minerals. The massive mining complex is located about 120 kilometres west of Panama City and 20 kilometres from the Atlantic coast

Some 700 workers have been sent home already and another 500 remain quarantined in nearby hotels.

In total, 7,000 people work at Cobre Panamá but the company was able to ban 4,200 staff and contractors from entering the operation prior to closing its doors.

According to Minera Panamá, as management coordinates efforts with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Work and Employment Development, and the Union of Minera Panamá Workers, new physical distancing measures are being implemented and dining rooms have been shut down, with workers receiving meals directly in their bedrooms together with hygiene kits. The areas that have been evacuated have also been disinfected. 

“Our numbers reveal that the protocols that we have implemented are yielding positive results,” Keith Green, general manager at Cobre Panamá, said in the press brief. “The goal behind our triage, quarantine, monitoring and follow-up, as well as the most recent disinfection of spaces, is to protect the health and safety of our workforce.”

Green also said that some maintenance work will continue at the copper mine to guarantee the environmental safety of the operation and preserve mining equipment. 

As of Sunday afternoon, Panama registered 4,210 confirmed cases of covid-19 and 115 deaths.