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Cobre Panama worker dies of COVID-19

A worker at First Quantum Minerals’ Cobre Panama copper mine in Panama has died from the COVID-19 virus, according to a Tweet by the country’s Ministry of Health.
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The milling facility at Cobre Panama in Panama

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The Tweet said that despite the company implementing a strict epidemiological boundary a worker died during the night of April 4.

First Quantum reported on March 24 that several members of the contractor workforce at Cobre Panama were confirmed as having contracted the COVID-19 virus and that it had implemented appropriate control, isolation and quarantine measures at the site.

In a subsequent Tweet, the ministry said it would expand testing to follow up with the other workers.

The mine was specifically authorised to continue operating under Decree 500 issued on March 20, with a reduced labour force operating on 12-hour shifts.

"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," said CEO Philip Pascall in a statement at the time.

"We are doing everything we can to care for our staff, their families and the communities around us in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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."

Cobre Panama is in its ramp-up phase and was expected to produce 285,000-310,000 tonnes of copper this year, although the implementation of health protocols means the pace of ramp-up may be slower than originally planned, impacting production in the first semester.

Shares in First Quantum Minerals are trading at $6.12, valuing the company at $4.2 billion.