First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FQM) announced that its subsidiary, Minera Panamá S.A., has suspended ore processing operations at the Cobre Panamá mine. This interruption to operations is the result of the Panamá Maritime Authority’s (AMP) refusal to permit copper concentrate loading operations at the mine’s port, Punta Rincón.

FQM said it believes it has met or exceeded all of AMP’s requirements, but the authority has continued to block Minera Panamá’s export operations.

Minera Panamá will begin laying off part of its workforce of more than 8,000 employees and contractors, and it will lay off more if concentrate shipments do not resume. In addition to layoffs, the mine will cease purchasing supplies and services, amounting to roughly $20 million per week to more than 2,000 Panamanian companies. Cobre Panamá said contributes approximately 5% to Panamá’s GDP, and makes up 75% of the country’s export of goods and has created at least 40,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, that supports an estimated 100,000 or more Panamanians.

Minera Panamá said it is taking a systematic approach to reducing operations to ensure the safety of its workforce, prevent damage and degradation of equipment, and preserve the integrity of the mine. Essential safety and environmental work will continue, including care of the tailings management facility. Excess power generated by the mine’s captive power plant will be offered for dispatch to the national grid.