China’s Jiangxi Copper lifts its stake in First Quantum
Canadian miner's shares have been under intense pressure since Panama moved to revoke its lucrative contract there
Toronto — Chinese copper miner Jiangxi Copper has increased its stake in Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals to 19.5% from 18.3%, after buying a total of 1.35-million shares, according to a public filing in Canada late on Wednesday.
First Quantum shares have been under pressure since the Panama government moved to revoke the contract for the Canadian miner’s flagship copper mine in the Central American country.
Jiangxi Copper, which already is the largest shareholder of First Quantum, made the purchases over three trading days starting on November 3, taking its total shares in the Canadian company to 128.2-million shares, or about 19.5%, according to Reuters calculations.
In 2020, First Quantum adopted a poison pill takeover defence that prevents the Chinese company from buying more than 20% stake, under a standstill agreement.
First Quantum shares extended their gains to trade as much 8.9% on the news. Still, the shares are down about 40% since the Panama government proposed a referendum to decided whether the Cobre Panama mining licence should be cancelled after huge protests against the government awarding the contract to First Quantum and lack of transparency while signing the contract.
Panama’s top court will decide the validity of the contract, though a date for the ruling is not known yet.
Despite the protests, First Quantum’s Panama operations are continuing. First Quantum did not offer an immediate comment on Jiangxi Copper’s decision to raise its stake. Jiangxi Copper was not immediately reachable for comment.
Two sources familiar with the matter said First Quantum remains on track to meet its production for the next fiscal year. The mine, which accounts for about 5% of the country’s GDP and supports more than 49,000 direct and indirect jobs, is Panama’s second-largest revenue source after the Panama Canal.
The Cobre Panama mine is one of the newest copper mines and was built at a cost of $11bn over nearly two decades.
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