Protests may force controversial Panama mining operation to close


The Canadian mining company whose contract with Panama’s government has triggered weeks of protests said Monday that it has reduced operations and soon may have to suspend them due to a blockade of its mine’s power plant.

Minera Panama, the local subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, said in a statement that small boats had blocked its port in Colon province, preventing supplies from reaching the copper mine.

“If the illegal actions continue impeding the necessary supplies to operate the power plant, the company will reduce the remaining processing train this week and will temporarily suspend production,” the statement said.


Panama has been roiled by weeks of massive street protests and highway blockades as citizens worried about the impact on the environment pressure the government to revoke the contract. The protesters, a broad coalition of Panamanians, fear the mine’s impact on nature and especially on the water supply.

Panamanian flag

The Panamanian flag flies against a partly cloudy sky, Panama City, Panama, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The mine employs thousands and accounts for 3% of Panama’s gross domestic product.

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