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Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals FM-T said on Monday it intends to sell the 120,000 tons of copper concentrate stored near the Punta Rincon port.

First Quantum’s Panama unit said in a statement that due to the lack of options available to finance the essential activities of preservation and safe operations, selling the copper concentrate is the best alternative to generate resources to cover the costs.

In December, the Panama government ordered the shutdown of First Quantum’s Cobre Panama mine after protests erupted across the country against the mine. Since then, the company has been asking the Panama government to allow it safe closure of the mine.

The company estimates the cost to finance essential activities of preservation at $15-million to $20-million a month.

“The removal of this material is necessary to avoid possible security and health issues. The company has explained these risks to Panama’s trade ministry and invited them to monitor the process,” Cobre Panama, the Panama subsidiary of First Quantum, said in a statement.

Shares of First Quantum were down 0.6 per cent at C$12.63 in Toronto late on Monday afternoon.

The Panama government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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