Operations at Minera Panama, the largest copper mine in Central America, have been temporarily suspended after workers became infected with COVID-19, including one who died.
The Panamanian government ordered the moratorium after the outbreak occurred at Cobre Panama, a project within the larger Minera Panama mine, the government said in a statement.
Minera Panama, 80pc of which is owned by First Quantum Minerals, has placed Cobre Panama into care and maintenance until the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Panama is satisfied with quarantining efforts.
Temporary care and maintenance is expected to cost approximately $4-6mn a week, assuming labor contracts are suspended and other variable and fixed costs are lowered, the miner said in a statement. It added that it will soon provide a revised guidance for Cobre Panama’s production in 2020.
According to figures for 2020 from the company’s website, contained copper production is estimated at 285,000-310,000mt, and gold output is estimated to be 120,000-130,000 ounces.
The Cobre Panama project, located in the Colon Province, is 120km west of Panama City, and has 3.1bn mt of proven and probable reserves, making it one of the most significant greenfield copper project in the world.
With commercial production beginning last year, the plant is capable of producing more than 320,000mt of copper per annum, along with gold, silver, and molybdenum, according to the company’s website.