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Cobre Panama

Home  >  Our Operations  >  Operating Mines  >  Cobre Panama  >  Overview

Preservation and
Safe Management

Following the halt to production in November 2023, First Quantum placed Cobre Panama into a phase of Preservation and Safe Management. This means we are working to safely and responsibly manage
the mine.

We are committed to working transparently and openly with the Government of Panama to find a long-term solution in the best interests of all stakeholders.

About Cobre Panama

With 3.0 billion tonnes of proven and probable reserves, Cobre Panama is one of the largest new copper mines opened globally in the past decade. Located in Colon Province, 120km west of Panama City, the production complex includes two open pits, a processing plant, a 300 megawatt power stations and an international port.

3.0bn

3.0 billion tonnes of proven
and probable reserves

+1.5%

Provided +1.5% of global
copper in 2023

5%

Constituted 5% of
Panama’s GDP in 2023

2.3%

Employed more than 2% of Panama’s
total formal workforce

+$130m

+$130m social investment
since project inception

+4k

+4,681 hectares
reforested

Answering your questions about Cobre Panama

What is happening with the Cobre Panama mine today?

Following illegal blockades of the international port and mine access road, Cobre Panama halted production in November 2023. Following a request from the Government of Panama in December 2023, which followed a ruling by the Supreme Court, First Quantum, Cobre Panama was placed into a temporary phase of Preservation and Safe Management. This means we are working with a smaller team to implement environmental stability and asset integrity measures as we continue to manage the mine safely and responsibly.
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What environmental programmes are in place at the mine?

We have many environmental programmes underway around Cobre Panama. These plans focus on conservation of biodiversity and forests. We have a protected area action plan that protects over 200,000 hectares of land and includes a $5m annual expenditure on biodiversity.

Our reforestation plan commits us to reforesting 11,175 hectares of forest, including restoring native forests and a footprint rehabilitation plan that will protect the area affected by our mining footprint. In total, our protected conservation area is 30 times larger than our Mine’s footprint.

We also have species level conservation plans, including specialised biodiversity training for all mining employees and collaboration with conservation organisations such as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Peregrine Fund. As part of this we are committed to protecting 18 species listed between near threatened and critically endangered within our conservation area. Our long-term funding and support agreement has been signed with the Panamanian Ministry for Environment, creating external checks and ensuring we follow through on our commitments.

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What frameworks and assurances are in place to make sure the mine is responsibly managed from an environmental perspective?

Our audit programme is made up of internal and external audits based on ISO14001 – the international standard for Environmental Management Systems. The external audits are carried out by certified companies with experience in mining and environmental sectors. They take a systematic approach to ensure robust and consistent procedures are in place so that we maintain a strong environmental management system. In addition, we have our own internal audit programme. This approach is created tailored to each mine that we operate and is implemented by personnel with expertise on the subject matter. These reviews not only provide a detailed assessment of environmental performance but allow us to share knowledge between sites and continuously improve. After each report, action plans are created and implemented to address their findings and control any risks unearthed. We follow up on and evaluate our progress on a monthly basis and report to the group when further analysis or support is required.
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What community programmes have you put in place at the mine?

We take a collaborative approach to build meaningful community programmes that matter to people in the areas where we work. We work alongside governments and local leaders to find projects with a focus on education, infrastructure, sanitation and healthcare.

Since 2013, we have invested over $50 million in diverse social projects. Some of our notable projects include;

  • The establishment of the Training Centre for Industrial Professionals, which provides tuition-free technical education endorsed by the National institute of Education and Training for Human Development to people aged 18 to 35.
  • Construction of a bridge in San Juan de Turbe, extending its benefits to communities in nearby districts and thereby improving accessibility and connectivity, as well as eight other community bridges facilitating transportation and serving approximately 1,800 people.
  • Enhanced potable water supplies for five surrounding communities, ensuring clean drinking water access for all residents.
  • Implemented improved water storage and supply systems in the Santa Ortis community, directly benefiting 300 residents.
  • Upgraded infrastructure at 15 schools, impacting a total of 877 students, including a dining room and canteen at School Nuevo Eden, providing essential facilities for 57 students and three teachers.
  • Supplied materials and labor to enhance the Health Center, Miguel de la Borda, ensuring better healthcare access for approximately 3,500 people in the community.

In addition to our community projects, we also create and employ jobs. At the height of the mine, we provided more than 2% of national employment in Panama, with Panamanians representing 89% of mine employees.

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How do you manage water at the mine?

99% of the water used at the mine comes from rainwater. It does not use water that could affect the availability of water for the Panama Canal.

All project water passes through our tailings storage facility for a physical settling process and is discharged from a single point of discharge in compliance with national regulations. This single point of discharge of water is continually monitored and compliance maintained with issued permitting.

Our tailings are mostly inert material such as rainwater, lime and ground rock, and no cyanide or mercury is used in the copper extraction process.

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How do you ensure the integrity of your water testing programme?

Cobre Panama encourages its surrounding communities to carry out Citizen Participatory Monitoring. This is where residents oversee the taking of samples, the chain of custody and the analysis and results of water quality testing. An international independent technical organization educates, trains and advises local communities throughout the entire process. This initiative has been carried out with consultants from AVANZAR for 12 years. Members from 11 communities surrounding the mine are organized. Prior to the start of operations, a baseline was established against which all monitoring is checked. As a result, the mine has more than 260 water quality control points operating ensure external monitoring.
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How does the mine contribute to the local economy and Panama as a whole?

We contribute to the mine, not only through the employment of our local workforce, but also through taxes, royalties and contracts throughout our supply chain.

The mine has provided over 7,000 direct jobs with an average salary of over $2,000 per month and more than $900 million in contracts to Panamanian-based companies since 2015. Furthermore, Cobre Panama employs indirectly more than 33,000 jobs. In full flow it contributed around 5% of GDP and employs more than 2% of Panama’s total workforce. We also provide training and development for the local community to enable the local workforce to fill open job roles, and support for the local community after consultation with local leaders to find which programmes are needed the most.

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How important is the mine in terms of global copper supply?

The mine is one of the youngest copper mines in the world, and one of the top 10 largest. At full operation it was providing an estimated 1.5% of the global copper supply.

This copper is vitally important in our lives, it’s in our homes, our phones and our cars, and it is a vital component in the clean energy transition. A single 660-Kw wind turbine contains 350kg of copper, whilst a PV solar power plant contains approximately 5.5 tons of copper per megawatt of power generation. In addition, Cobre Panama alone can produce enough copper for 6 million electric vehicles each year.

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What do you say to the people who claim impropriety in the awarding of the Cobre Panama concession contract?

Our business has zero tolerance for corruption of any kind. The Company has operated successfully across multiple jurisdictions for over 25 years and has always conformed to the highest ethical standards and international best practices in its business conduct, and in its respect for local and domestic laws. In addition, as a Canadian company, the Company is strictly bound by Canada’s robust anti-bribery and corruption laws. Such laws have extraterritorial reach and prohibit irregular payments to foreign officials anywhere in the world, and in many circumstances make such payments a criminal offense.
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Why mining matters

Mining is vital to our society. The materials that are extracted are ubiquitous in our society. Without mining, we wouldn’t have many of the things we take for granted in our daily lives.

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How modern mining works

Many people have the wrong image of mining. It’s a high-tech industry full of innovative engineering, with lots of intelligent people ensuring that the materials we need are extracted with care.

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Production statistics

Find out more information about our production statistics.

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Reserves & resources

Cobre Panama's most recently estimated Mineral Resource and Reserve. These estimates involve risks and uncertainties please read our Cautionary Disclosure.

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