A $5.48 billion mining operation that will rival the Panama Canal’s impact on Panama’s economy is on track to launch in 2018. The Cobre Panama mine is about 50 percent complete and should be delivering more than 320,000 tonnes of copper a year by 2019, Mike Christie, global exploration director for mine owner First Quantum, told an industry group this week.
The mine operation has been in development for many years and will provide a huge boost to Panama’s economy. The 13,600-hectare site, located about 120 kilometers west of Panama City near the Caribbean coast, is considered one of the largest unmined copper deposits in the world.
The project is already sending ripples through Panama’s economy, creating jobs, increasing business traffic and fueling the creation of ancillary businesses. That translates directly to the real estate sector, bringing in a new generation of high-level international buyers and renters.
Canadian-based First Quantum expects the mining operation to generate $2 billion worth of annual exports during the 34-year lifespan, which would be the equivalent of about 4 percent of Panama’s GDP. The project has created 7,000 jobs during the construction phase and is expected to employ 2,500 people once the mining operation starts, the company said.
First Quantum will spend close to $1 billion this year on construction and $830 million next year, Christie told the group. The company is building its own functioning city, with a power station, roads, and a working port.
First Quantum acquired an 80 percent stake in the project in 2013 when it purchased Inmet Mining. The mine is also expected to produce gold, silver, and molybdenum.