A breakthrough in contract talks at a mine in Panama is the latest piece of good news for global copper supplies following resumption of operations at a giant Indonesian mine and easing tensions in Peru.
Panamanian officials are “very close” to reaching an agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd. over a new contract for the Cobre Panama mine, said Ebrahim Asvat, a lawyer advising the government in the negotiations. A deal could be reached within two weeks, he said.
That would end a months-long dispute that culminated in the suspension of exports and ore processing at a mine that accounts for about 1.5% of the world’s copper production. The apparent breakthrough would also avoid dire consequences for First Quantum’s bottom line and Panama’s reputation as an investor-friendly jurisdiction.
It also comes just days after Freeport-McMoRan Inc. boss Richard Adkerson told an industry event that Grasberg is operating again after a landslide disrupted the Indonesian copper and gold complex, and that the company’s mine in Peru had returned to normal production after slowing mill operations by 10% to 15% amid anti-government protests.
There was also some relief in Chile Tuesday when the top-producing nation reported a year-on-year increase in monthly output after a series of operational setbacks and disappointments.
Just as those disruptions had supported copper prices in a recent pullback fueled by demand concerns, it stands to reason that a return to normal programing at some of the world’s biggest mines will offset some of the bullish sentiment derived from positive signs out of China.
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