First Quantum Minerals is intensifying efforts to advance its copper projects in Peru after a setback in Panama, where the company lost the right to operate its copper mine due to protests by environmental activists and a court ruling annulling its contract, Reuters reported, citing a company executive.

The Canadian miner controls the La Granja project, valued at more than $2.5bn (C$3.42bn), and the $1.86bn Haquira project in Peru.

Speaking at a mining forum in Lima, First Quantum project development director Steven Lewis stated: “These are projects that need to be accelerated.”

La Granja, which boasts a 40-year lifespan and an estimated annual output of 500,000t, is considered one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper deposits.

Apart from First Quantum, Rio Tinto also holds a minority stake in this project.

The Haquira project, entirely owned by First Quantum and located in the Apurimac region, is in the “pre-feasibility” stage.

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The company anticipates that once Haquira reaches full capacity, it could produce 200,000t of copper annually.

Lewis was quoted by the news agency as saying: “We are very busy building more positive relationships with the communities (in Haquira) to allow it to come to light.”

However, Lewis did not specify a timeline for the construction of the mines in Peru.

The shift in focus to Peru comes after Panama’s government annulled First Quantum’s contract to operate the Cobre Panama mine, which contributed to approximately 40% of the company’s revenue last year, according to Reuters.

“We are now working with Panama’s Government to ensure the environmental stability (of the project), the integrity of the copper assets, and, most importantly, the safety of our employees,” Lewis added.

The Cobre Panama mine is currently undergoing a formal closure process, initiated by Panama’s outgoing government under President Laurentino Cortizo.

The incoming administration, led by President-elect Jose Raul Mulino, who takes office on 1 July, will set the guidelines for this process.