First Quantum Minerals Raises Alarm Over Environmental Risks Posed by Long-Term Copper Concentrate Storage

First Quantum Minerals, through its subsidiary Minera Panamá, has issued a communiqué highlighting the dangers associated with the long-term storage of copper concentrate at the Cobre Panamá mine.

First Quantum Minerals, through its subsidiary Minera Panamá, has issued a communiqué highlighting the dangers associated with the long-term storage of copper concentrate at the Cobre Panamá mine. The miner has raised concerns about the increase in chemical reactions generating hazardous gases and rising temperatures within the stored material, posing significant environmental risks and jeopardizing the health and safety of workers engaged in care and maintenance activities at the site.

Environmental and Safety Concerns

Regular monitoring conducted by First Quantum Minerals has revealed alarming trends at the Cobre Panamá mine, indicating a surge in chemical reactions within the stored copper concentrate. This escalation poses imminent environmental hazards and threatens the well-being of personnel involved in maintenance operations. The company emphasizes the urgent need for immediate action to mitigate these risks and safeguard both the environment and the workforce.

Export Restrictions Complicate Situation

The situation at Cobre Panamá is compounded by export restrictions imposed by the Panamanian government following the closure of the mine in December, disrupting the customary practice of promptly selling copper concentrate abroad to ensure stability and safety. First Quantum Minerals underscores the critical importance of expediting the transfer of the material to mitigate environmental and safety risks effectively.

Commitment to Environmental Preservation

In response to mounting concerns, Cobre Panamá has pledged to allocate proceeds from the sale of copper concentrate towards implementing a comprehensive Preservation and Safe Management Plan for the site. The company estimates the monthly costs of this plan to range between $15 million and $20 million, reflecting its commitment to environmental preservation and responsible resource management.

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Transparency and Cooperation

Emphasizing transparency and cooperation, First Quantum Minerals has complied with requests from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) by submitting an updated Preservation and Safe Management Plan, along with a detailed report on the status of the stored copper concentrate. The company asserts its commitment to fostering collaboration and disseminating clear, transparent information to all stakeholders involved in addressing the situation.

Mitigation Efforts and Future Plans

Efforts to address the environmental and safety risks associated with long-term copper concentrate storage are underway, with a focus on securing government authorization for the export of the material and implementing robust preservation measures at the Cobre Panamá site. First Quantum Minerals remains dedicated to resolving the situation expediently while prioritizing the safety and well-being of its workforce and the surrounding environment.

The announcement from First Quantum Minerals regarding the environmental risks posed by long-term copper concentrate storage underscores the company’s commitment to responsible resource management and safety protocols. As the miner navigates challenges stemming from export restrictions and heightened environmental concerns, collaboration with government authorities and transparent communication with stakeholders will be paramount in mitigating risks and safeguarding the Cobre Panamá mine’s long-term viability.

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