First Quantum offers voluntary retirement to over 1,500 Panama mine staff

A Cobre Panama worker. (Image by Cobre Panama).

First Quantum Minerals, opens new tab on Tuesday offered voluntary retirement to more than 1,500 employees at its key Panama mine, a day after announcing a major restructuring to conserve cash, which included suspension of dividends.

The Canadian miner is dealing with the fallout of the Panama government’s decision in December to halt production at Cobre Panama mine following public protests, which accounted for more than 40% of the company’s annual revenue and is considered one of the biggest and newest copper mines in the world.

Because of the closure of the mine, Cobre Panama in December requested government authorization to lay off more than 4,000 of its employees.

Tuesday’s retirement offer is the second such plan announced by the company in Panama, and a total of 2,900 employees have now accepted the scheme, the company said.

The copper-gold miner had also announced job cuts in its nickel mine in Ravensthorpe at western Australia on Monday.

Since the big blow in Panama, First Quantum has been looking at ways to shore up its finances. The company has said it is exploring sale of smaller mines and looking to bring strategic equity partners for its large mines.

Reuters reported this month that First Quantum is in talks with it biggest shareholder Jiangxi Copper Co, opens new tab about selling stakes in its Zambian mines.

Scotiabank Global Equity Research said in note that First Quantum’s guidance on its restructuring and production remains neutral for the shares and it counts elevated geopolitical risks in Panama and Zambia as key risks for the company.

First Quantum shares closed with 1.27% gain at the end of trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange, while the benchmark index closed down by 0.54%.

(By Divya Rajagopal; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


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