The Canadian mining giant First Quantum Minerals (FQM) said Friday, November 3 that the controversial Cobre Panamá mine continues to operate without interruptions, although it acknowledged that the protests in Panama are causing problems and a shortage of some supplies.
In a statement, FQM explained that the protests and blockades of "key roads" are causing problems, and noted that it is pending the evolution of the constitutionality appeals of the controversial Law 406, which grants it the right to exploit the Cobre Panamá mine through its subsidiary Minera Panamá (MPSA).
The Canadian company was "confident regarding its legal position and that of MPSA" and added that it "reserves all its rights and those of MPSA in Panama and internationally."
After a week of sharp declines in shares, FQM shares opened higher, with a gain of almost 9% shortly after the start of trading on the Toronto market.
Since Monday, FQM shares have lost 32% of their value.
On Sunday, October 29, Panama President, Laurentino Cortizo, announced that he will call a referendum on December 17 on the renewal of the controversial contract with MPSA for the exploitation of Cobre Panamá.
The renewal of the contract for the operation of the mine, located about 120 kilometers west of Panama City and which began production in 2019, has caused serious protests across Panama since last October 23.
Panamanian activists have denounced that the new contract maintains the same problems that led to the previous one being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and that the economic benefits do not compensate for the environmental damage of the open pit mine, the largest in Central America.
FQM insists that it is "proud of its contribution to Panama" and that the mine is the largest private investment in the country's history, contributing almost 5% to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and has created 40,000 direct and indirect jobs.
"FirstQuantum is a responsible mining company that takes its obligations very seriously. The company respects its legal obligations, both local and international, and follows high standards of ethical behavior in its conduct as a company," the company said.