March 24, 2020 / 1:34 PM / in 8 days

Miner First Quantum sees slower ramp-up at Panama mine after workers contract coronavirus

(Reuters) - Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd (FM.TO) said on Tuesday that production at its Cobre Panama copper mine would ramp up at a slower-than-expected pace after several workers contracted the COVID-19 virus, forcing the miner to implement quarantine measures.

The miner maintained its production guidance for the year but said it would temporarily cut pay for certain senior staff by 20% and that it could defer some capital spending to preserve cash.

The fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic has battered global stocks and copper prices CMCUc1, putting miners on the defensive.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE3.SA) said it will draw $5 billion from its revolving credit lines to strengthen its liquidity. On Monday, copper giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX.N) said it will stop dividend payouts and slash costs and output.

First Quantum said its 2020 outlook for copper production at Cobre Panama was unchanged at 285,000 to 310,000 tonnes.

“However, as a result of the implementation of the health protocols at the operation, the pace of ramp-up may be slightly slower than originally planned and will impact first half production,” it said.

The miner also said was exporting Zambian production through alternate routes owing to port and transit restrictions in South Africa.

First Quantum shares were up 21% in early trading, while benchmark Canadian share index was rose 6.7%.

Reporting by Jeff Lewis in Toronto; additional reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Stev Orlofsky

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