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Cobre Panama Copper Mine, Panama

cobte obre Panama is a large copper porphyry deposit located approximately 120km west of Panama City in the Donoso district.
The mine, spread over 13,600ha, includes four concessions and is owned by Inmet Mining Corporation through its wholly-owned subsidiary Minera Panamá (MPSA).

The project was formerly known as Petaquilla Copper and was acquired by Inmet in 2008. Currently under development, the nearly $4bn Cobre Panama project involves an open pit mine, facilities for ore crushing, conveying, stockpiling and processing as well as ancillary systems, equipment and infrastructure.

The project is slated for completion in 2016. Construction is expected to begin by late 2011 or early 2012. The mine will produce, on an average, 0.25mt copper, 90,000oz gold and 1.5m oz of silver over a life span of more than 30 years, nearly tripling Inmet's total copper production by 2016.

"Mining at Cobre Panama will involve conventional open pit methods."


The mine hosts 2.1mt of proven and probable reserves graded at 0.41% Cu, 0.07g/t Au, 1.43g/t Ag and 0.008% Mo. Measured and indicated resources are estimated to be 3.2mt grading at 0.36% Cu, 0.06g/t Au, 1.3g/t Ag and 0.007% Mo. Inferred resources total 3.1mt graded at 0.24% Cu, 0.04g/t Au, 1g/t Ag and 0.005% Mo.

Geology and mineralisation

The mine is hosted at the southern end of a massive mid-Oligocene aged granodioritic batholith. Botija, Colina and Valle Grande are the main deposits with several smaller deposits also hosted including Brazo and Botija Abajo. The deposits measure 9km in length and 4.5km in width and occur within a west north-west, east south-east oriented zone.

Porphyry style mineralisation occurs in granodiorite, feldspar-quartzhornblende and adjacent lying andesitic volcanics.

Several north dipping feldspar-quartzhornblende dikes intrude the granodiorite at Botija. Two roof pendants of andesitic volcanics are hosted in the central and eastern sections of the deposit.

At Colina, mineralisation is associated with a 2.5km-long, 1km-wide, shallow north dipping feldspar-quartzhornblende porphyry sill and dike complex with an east south-east trend. The complex cuts the granodiorite and andesitic volcanics.

The Valle Grande zone is defined by south-east trending feldspar-quartz-hornblende porphyry lopolith. The lopolith is bound by andesitic volcanics and minor granodioritic dikes towards north and south. The dominant host rock at the Brazo and Botija Abajo include feldspar-quartz or feldspar-quartzhornblende porphyry.

Hydrothermal alteration along the Cobre mineral strike is mainly silica-chlorite interpreted to be a type of propylitic alteration. Potassic alteration has been observed in the central sections of Botija, including salmon coloured potassium feldspar and secondary biotite. Argillic and phyllic alteration is observed in patches across the three primary deposits Botija, Colina and Valle Grande. Phyllic alteration becomes more widespread near the top of the deposits. At Brazo, widespread sericite, clay and pyrite are hosted along with well established quartz stockworks.

Hypogene sulphides across the property are hosted as fracture fillings, disseminations, micro-vienlets and quartzsulphide stockworks. Chalcopyrite is the dominant copper mineral with trace amounts of bornite. Minor molibdenite is hosted commonly in quartz veinlets. Supergene enriched mineralisation including chalcocite-coated pyrite and uncommon local copper is found until a depth of 150m at Brazo. There are no major zones of supergene mineralisation at Botija, Colina and Valle Grande.


"The project was formerly known as Petaquilla Copper and was acquired by Inmet in 2008."


Mining at Cobre Panama will involve conventional open pit methods. Ore processing will be carried out in a concentrator designed to treat ore at a head grade of 0.70% Cu and 0.013% Mo. The concentrator will initially process 150,000t/d ore from Botija, while ore from the Colina and Valle Grande pits will be processed later.

Ore will be separated from the minerals following a crushing and grinding process. Using froth flotation, majority of the copper and molybdenum minerals will be separated from uneconomical minerals. The two will be separated from each other through differential flotations.

The design of the process plant will allow 15% daily fluctuations in throughput. In the tenth year, the rate of ore throughput from the concentrator will be increased by 50% to 225,000t/d, providing sufficient concentrate production during periods of falling head grade.

To meet the increased rate of ore treatment, the capacity of the crusher, grinder, bulk rougher flotation, water and air systems will also be increased by 50%.

A tailings storage facility and a facility to supply reclaim water for the process will also be constructed.


The EPCM contract for the project was awarded to SNC-Lavalin Group-led joint venture in November 2010. The joint venture, named Joint Venture Panama, includes GyM and Techint International Construction Corp.

The contract will involve all structures of the mine except the power plant that will be developed by GDF Suez Centroamerica.

Courtesy By mining-technology

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