Protests in Panama have escalated over a large copper mine contract operated by Canadian mining company First Quantum’s local branch, Minera Panama. The company reported that a ship carrying supplies for their Panama unit was unable to dock at the port of Punta Rincon due to local boats blocking access. The ship remained in Panamanian waters for several days, but on Thursday, the captain had to call authorities because the ship urgently needed to dock for supplies.
The National Aeronaval Service (Senan) identified the ship as the CSL Tarantau, and reported that the ship attempted an emergency dock on Thursday, but the captain aborted the attempt to avoid an accident. Earlier in the week, protests blocking the port led to a reduction in ore processing at the Cobre Panama mine, indicating that the mine’s production was at risk. The protests stem from a new contract signed on October 20 between the Panamanian government and First Quantum for the Cobre Panama mine, with protesters alleging corrupt practices and overly generous terms for First Quantum. The company has denied these allegations.
Overall, the protests and blockage at the port have caused disruptions in supply deliveries and ore processing at the mine, leading to concerns about the mine’s production. Efforts have been made by Minera Panama’s union and the company to ensure workers’ pay amidst the protests.