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Partial strike ends at First Quantum's Cobre Panama

Workers ended a partial strike at the Cobre Panama copper project in Panama and will return to work over the coming weeks, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. said in a March 26 press release.

First Quantum reported the strike March 14 and said it was limited to a small number of workers who were not members of the union representing most employees on-site.

It is not clear if the strike, which began March 9, will slow Cobre Panama's construction timeline or resulted in any concessions made to workers. A spokesperson for the company could not be immediately reached to take questions.

David Davidson, a senior partner and analyst with Paradigm Capital, expects it to affect project timing. "It may be short, but it will impact the schedule slightly," he said in an email.

Cobre Panama production is set to ramp up in late 2018. First Quantum plans to produce more than 150,000 tonnes of copper in 2019 at Cobre Panama and between 270,000 and 300,000 tonnes of copper in 2020. The schedule, outlined in a February corporate presentation, assumes mine commissioning in the fourth quarter.

First Quantum is testing the waters for large-scale mining in Panama, which does not otherwise have a major mining industry. In that respect, Davidson said he is surprised that there has not already been labor actions on-site.

He said he does not see the partial strike as a sign that labor issues will be particularly problematic at Cobre Panama. "Once Cobre Panama gets built, one shouldn't expect anything other than normal contract noise."