Cobre Panama workers contract COVID-19

Canada-based First Quantum Minerals said “several members” of its contractor workforce had contracted the COVID-19 virus, and while it has been cleared by regulators to continue operations at the Cobre Panama copper mine, it remains ready for quarantine
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Cobre Panama is located in Colon province, 120km west of Panama City

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The miner did not specify the number of impacted individuals, but said the group was being cared for in the public healthcare system as per the Panama Ministry of Health requirements. It also did not indicate how the workers contracted the virus.

Cobre Panama was given the green light, via an Executive Decree 500, on March 20 to continue operations. The government of Panama permission comes with strict outlines that activities be performed by a reduced workforce at the copper mine on 12-hour shift schedules.

"Our key priorities are the health of our employees and to ensure the business remains robust in the midst of a challenging commodity price environment," CEO Philip Pascall said.

"It is also our responsibility that we continue our contribution to the economies of the countries in which we operate and supply the products on which our customers depend.

"We will continue to operate our mines responsibly, providing employment and generating revenues, and we will ensure that our business withstands this period of downturn."

Quantum officials said its other mine sites had prepared for control, isolation and quarantine as necessary.

Even with the pandemic, the miner said it had not experienced any significant disruption to sales, supply chains or product shipments. As such, it has chosen to maintan its production guidance for the year.

"Cobre Panama continues to ramp-up and expectations for 2020 copper production remain unchanged at 285,000-310,000 tonnes," the company said.

"However, as a result of the implementation of the health protocols at the operation, the pace of ramp-up may be slightly slower than originally planned and will impact first half production. At this stage, it is expected that the annual production expectation can still be met with better than planned second half production levels."

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