Canada's First Quantum agrees to higher payments at Panama copper mine

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A truck winds its way out of the Canadian First Quantum?s Frontier mine in Fungurume, in southern Democratic Republic of Congo May 25, 2010. REUTERS/Katrina Manson

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PANAMA CITY, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The Panamanian unit of Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals has agreed with Panama's government to increase royalty payments at its flagship copper mine, the company and the government said on Monday.

Minera Panama, which is majority owned by First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO), has agreed to pay $375 million a year to state coffers from the Cobre Panama mine, which it says is one of world's largest copper producers.

"We accept the proposal of the national Government, while requesting that the necessary protections be provided in order to safeguard the continuity of the operation," Minera Panama said in a statement.

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The company did not immediately respond to a question about the size of the increase in royalty payments

Panama's government said President Laurentino Cortizo would give details of the agreement on Tuesday.

The company began negotiating a new contract with officials in September, after Cortizo promised to seek a fairer deal with better public benefits.

Toronto-based First Quantum began commercial operations at Cobre Panama, about 120 km (75 miles) west of Panama City, in 2019.

The mine contributes 3.5% of the country's gross domestic product, according to government figures, and at full capacity can produce more than 300,000 tonnes of copper per year.

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Reporting by Elida Moreno, writing by Daina Beth Solomon, editing by Richard Pullin

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