Sunday, May 21, 2017

First Quantum Minerals to commission $5.5b Panama copper project in just months

First Quantum Minerals to commission $5.5b Panama copper project in just months
Vancouver’s First Quantum Minerals (TSE:FM) is just a few months away from commissioning its massive $5.48 billion copper project in Panama, one of the largest of very few new red metal mines to begin production by the end of the decade.
The company, which gained control over the Cobre Panama project in 2013 with the acquisition of rival Canadian copper miner Inmet mining, said May 18 the open-pit mine was now about 50% complete.Speaking at the Paydirt Latin America Downunder conference, in Perth, First Quantum global exploration director, Mike Christie, said the firm would spend close to $1 billion this year to advance construction at the project, located about 120 km west of Panama City, and 20 km from the Caribbean Sea coast.
The miner plans to invest a further $830 million next year and $110 million in 2019, when the mine is expected to reach full capacity of 320,000 tonnes of copper annually.Once that happens, First Quantum’s total production will surpass 900,000 tones a year, making the company one of the world’s top six copper producers.
Panama will also reap the benefit from the operating mine, as it is expected to generate around $2 billion worth of annual exports during its 34-years of life. That, according to Christie, is equivalent to around 4% of the Central American nation’s current GDP.Cobre Panama is already generating some benefits for the country’s economy, as it’s creating 7,000 jobs during construction and will employ 2,500 people once in operations, the company said.First Quantum, which has operating mines in Australia, Zambia, Mauritania, Turkey, Spain and Finland, is also developing two other projects in Latin American — Haquira in Peru and Taca Taca in Argentina – but it hasn’t decided which one will develop first.
Miguel Sanchiz – Panama Business –misancosa@gmail.com

Monday, May 15, 2017

Airport Authority of Pittsburgh in talks with Copa Airlines

Airport Authority of Pittsburgh in talks with Copa Airlines

After landing nonstop flights to Iceland and Frankfurt, Pittsburgh International Airport is turning its eye south to Panama.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority is talking to Copa Airlines about starting service to Panama City. Christina Cassotis, the authority’s CEO, has had conversations with the airline about flights between Pittsburgh and Panama City, spokeswoman Alyson Walls confirmed.

After landing nonstop flights to Iceland and Frankfurt, Pittsburgh International Airport is turning its eye south to Panama.

“There’s nothing imminent. There’s no timetable. It’s part of that overall international air service strategy. She thinks they would be a good fit for here,” Ms. Walls said.

Ms. Cassotis mentioned the talks during a recent breakfast meeting. She also discussed the possibility of landing Copa during an interview after becoming the authority’s CEO in 2015.

Copa operates from its hub at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, the capital of Panama. It offers about 355 flights to 69 destinations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean from its headquarters, according to its website.

In recent years, Copa has been expanding rapidly in the United States. In December, Denver will become its 13th market in the U.S. Other cities it flies to include Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Tampa and Las Vegas.

“They’re definitely a carrier in a growth mode,” said William Swelbar, executive vice president of Boston-based Intervistas Consulting, an economic and financial consultant to airlines and airports.

After becoming CEO, Ms. Cassotis described Copa as a “long-term play,” and Ms. Walls said there’s no timetable for the airline’s recruitment. “We’re watching them. We’re aware of them. We’re trying to see how they fit into the plan and market here,” Ms. Walls said. Mr. Swelbar said Copa would be a “great addition to the Pittsburgh route portfolio.”

“To get access to Copa would really open up Latin America to the Pittsburgh market,” he said. “[Copa] has a very good hub structure there. It is a financially strong carrier.”

But Blair Pomeroy, a longtime aviation strategy consultant who has worked for airlines in the past, saw little value in recruiting Copa to start service in Pittsburgh.

He predicted “very minimal traffic” between Pittsburgh and Panama City, adding that the number of passengers connecting to other destinations in Central or South America would be “tiny” in his view.

Based on his research, Mr. Pomeroy said fewer than five people a day currently fly from Pittsburgh to Panama City. He said that likely would increase with nonstop service, but not nearly enough to fill a small narrow body mainline jet like a Boeing 737 or Airbus 320. “There’s just absolutely no way that would ever work,” he said.


Bob Kerlik, an authority spokesman, said the flight has the potential to generate much more traffic. Because Tocumen airport is a connecting hub for Copa, the flight would offer travelers easy access to other destinations in Central and South America.

Miguel Sanchiz - Panama Business - misancosa@gmail.com

Friday, May 12, 2017

New Campaign From VML for Panama: Looking for Adventurers not Tourists

(Panama, Panama).- New Campaign From VML for Panama: Looking for Adventurers not Tourists

The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) and its new agency VML are introducing a new advertising campaign with a unique selling proposition for a country trying to attract visitors: the country isn’t set up well for tourists.

"In Panama, there are a lot of hidden of gems that you must work for to experience," says Sean Burns, executive creative director, VML. "A lot of locals haven’t seen the best parts of the country because it entails going off the beaten path."

"We set out to create an identity that was uniquely Panama – but more than people realized it was," says Burns. "The work is an invitation into discovering what this incredible country offers."

The WPP-owned agency is promoting this campaign via broadcast channels, PR, and print ads and pamphlets. Media also includes in-flight, paid Facebook and Instagram, digital display ads and YouTube pre-roll. Emails and other media direct people to the VisitPanama.com.

This strategy is designed to convert people into becoming Panama enthusiasts while they’re looking for flights and researching more “cliché” destinations like Cancun, or Costa Rica, says Burns. "Importantly, while people are in flight to any number of destinations via Copa Airlines fleet of planes, they’ll be exposed to how great Panama is – which might just be enough to draw them to Panama next time."


The Panama Tourism Authority hired a VML to get an outsider’s take on their country. Last year, the National Tourism Council (CNT) and the ATP authorized a two-year budget of $20 million to develop an international advertising campaign. "We’re part of their target audience - U.S., Canada, Spain and they brought us to the table to create a unique perspective," says Burns. "Previously, the PTA had been creating advertising based on how they see their country. We portrayed Panama in a way they never would have."

Miguel Sanchiz - misancosa@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ENGIE and AES Agree to Expand their LNG Marketing Partnership from Panama to Central America

(Panama, Panama).- ENGIE and AES Agree to Expand their LNG Marketing Partnership from Panama to Central America

ENGIE and The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) have agreed to enter into a joint venture to market and sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) to third parties in Central America.

The joint venture will utilize the Costa Norte LNG terminal currently under construction in Colón, Panama, which is owned 50/50 by AES and Inversiones Bahía. The total capacity of the Costa Norte LNG terminal is approximately 1.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), of which 25% will be used for the 380 MW AES Colón CCGT currently under construction on the same site. ENGIE will supply up to 0.4 mtpa of LNG to the CCGT beginning in 2018. The remaining terminal capacity is primarily available for the joint venture to market and sell to third parties, including up to 0.7 mtpa of LNG sourced from ENGIE mainly through the Cameron gas liquefaction project in the United States.

This joint venture further strengthens the joint marketing agreement signed by ENGIE and AES late last year, whereby both groups agreed to jointly market LNG in the Caribbean, from AES’ Andres re-gasification facility in the Dominican Republic. The combined regasification capacity of Andres in the Dominican Republic and Costa Norte in Panamá is approximately 3 mtpa.

ENGIE’s and AES’ objective continues to focus on providing a cleaner and more cost-effective alternative to oil-fueled power generation, while at the same time satisfying a growing need for natural gas in Central America and the Caribbean. This new agreement will pave the way for ENGIE and AES to supply LNG to industrial customers, develop small scale demand and provide bunkering services.


Miguel Sanchiz – misancosa@gmail.com

Monday, March 27, 2017

China state firms eye land around Panama Canal: waterway authority

China state firms eye land around Panama Canal: waterway authority

Chinese state firms have expressed an interest to develop land around the Panama Canal, the chief executive of the vital trade thoroughfare said, underlining China's outward push into infrastructure via railways and ports around the world.

The Panama Canal Authority will officially open a tender to develop about 1,200 hectares of land - roughly the size of 1,200 football fields - around the waterway by the end of this year into a logistics park, after completing a five-year-long decontamination of the area, Chief Executive Jorge Quijano said.

"We have been talking to people here in China," Quijano told Reuters on Monday ahead of a meeting with the canal's advisory board in Shanghai. China Communications Construction Corp (601800.SS: Quote)(1800.HK: Quote), its subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company and China Railway Group (601390.SS: Quote)(0390.HK: Quote) have shown interest in the project, he added.

This comes at a time when China is urging its companies to invest in infrastructure overseas as part of Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" initiative to improve global trade links.

China's state firms have in recent years already chalked up investments in key logistics nodes, including Piraeus in Greece and Bandar Malaysia, a major development project that is set to be the terminal for a proposed high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

China's COSCO Shipping Corp (601919.SS: Quote)(1919.HK: Quote), which owns stakes in ports around the world including Piraeus (OLPr.AT: Quote), has in the past approached the Panama Canal Authority about the latter's plans for the land, Quijano said.

"There are opportunities there, definitely for some of these Chinese companies to participate as a concessionaire, not just as a contractor to build something, but they can actually bid for the concession and then build," he said.

He did not say how much the authority expected to get by selling the concession to develop the land.

A floating gate is opening to the Chinese COSCO container vessel named Andronikos navigating through the Agua Clara locks during the first ceremonial pass through the newly expanded Panama Canal in Agua Clara, on the outskirts of Colon City, Panama

China Communications Construction, China Railway Group and COSCO did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Quijano said the canal authority will parcel out the land and grant concession agreements of up to 40 years, with the aim to develop infrastructure and buildings on land previously used by the United States military for target practice.

Also up for grabs is an operating agreement for a roll-on, roll-off terminal near the canal, the tender for which will be put out in the middle of 2017, he said, adding the authority expected interest from Japan, China, Norway and South Korea.

He estimated the land and terminal would help bring in an annual revenue of "between $100-$125 million" after the first five years of operation. Overall, the Panama Canal is expected to bring in $2.8 billion in revenue this year, he said.


Panama opened the long-delayed $5.4 billion expansion of the canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans last June, but it has since been roiled by claims of cost overruns and criticism after a series of incidents that saw ships hit the lane's wall.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Orla Mining Ltd. commenced a drilling program at Cerro Quema in Panama

(Panama Business News) Orla Mining Ltd.  commenced a drilling program at Cerro Quema in Panama

Orla Mining Ltd. has commenced a drilling program at its 100% owned Cerro Quema project in Panama. The initial holes will be targeted on areas proximal to the existing oxide gold resource that have a high potential to host additional resources. Success in this part of drilling program may provide material to incorporate into the current Pre-Feasibility Study mine plan and potentially result in a near-term increase in the estimated Net Present Value of the project.

As well as drilling, a property-wide geological mapping and sampling program is underway and an IP geophysical survey will be undertaken on priority targets in late January and February. This work is expected to provide new drilling targets for high-sulphidation (HS) related gold along a 15km trend identified to date. There is also excellent potential for other styles of mineralization coincident with the HS mineralization on the 14,800 hectare concession area.

"We are excited to start drilling on new concepts so soon after acquiring the project in December 2016. We believe we have excellent opportunities for increasing the current resource zones and for new discoveries at our largely untested Cerro Quema project," commented Marc Prefontaine, Orla's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are very systematic in our approach and have identified a series of geological, geochemical and geophysical anomalies that we consider to be highly prospective targets."

A contract for a minimum of 8,000 metres of diamond drilling has been awarded to Energold de Panama, S.A. One drill has commenced drilling and two more will arrive on the property in early February. The Company has budgeted for 25,000 metres of drilling in 2017.


Orla Mining is a mineral exploration company led by a group of seasoned mining executives with strong financial backing. The company's focus is to acquire mineral exploration opportunities where the Company's exploration and development expertise and corporate share structure could substantially enhance shareholder value. The 100% owned Cerro Quema project in Panama includes a near-term gold production scenario and significant exploration upside. Cerro Quema's 14,800 Ha concession boasts paved road access, a supportive local population and private land ownership. The Cerro Quema project is currently in the last stage of the permitting process for a proposed open pit mine and gold heap leach operation. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Frontier Digital Ventures increases share participation in Panamá´s Encuentra24.com

(Panama Business News) Frontier Digital Ventures increases share participation in Panamá´s Encuentra24.com

With a mission to become the leading operator of online classifieds businesses in frontier markets across the globe, Frontier Digital Ventures (FDV) injected fresh cash into Encuentra24.com (E24), a strong competitor in the classifieds arena of Central America.

The money will be used to accelerate E24’s monetization and boost its market position against the competition. FDV exercised its option to take up new shares in Encuentra24.com AG, thereby increasing its stake in E24 from 34.9 percent to 38.7 percent.

The option was exercised after Encuentra24.com (E24) exceeded key performance indicators, including growth in advertisers, listings, monthly site visits, revenue and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

FDV made a successful entrance to the Australian Stock Exchange in August. A core focus of the group is to provide funding for investee companies, as well as give strategy and operations direction for these companies.

E24 is one of the leading general classifieds sites in a potentially high-growth Central American market. E24 operates in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. These markets have growing populations and rising internet penetrations. E24 lists general classifieds, autos and properties

According to data provided by FDV, E24’s total listings have increased by 38 percent since December 2015 to more than half a million at the end of November 2016. Monthly site visits have also grown by more than 50 percent in the same period to 5.7 million visits in November 2016.

FDV’s co-founder and CEO, Shaun Di Gregorio said: “Our partners in the region, Boris Metraux and Wendy Jordan, are ‘A grade’ entrepreneurs and continue to do an outstanding job in growing the business. We’re excited to be in partnership with such capable entrepreneurs, and look forward to Encuentra24 dominating the region.”

FDV’s strategy is to partner with local entrepreneurs operating market-leading online classifieds businesses in frontier markets, and offer its management and operating expertise, as well as financial resources to accelerate the growth and leadership position of each operating company. As each business grows and matures, FDV considers whether it should take a higher stake.

FDV has a portfolio of 15 operating companies, including market leaders with an early-stage advantage in either the auto, real estate or general classifieds space. Its sites and companies include CarsDB.com and IMyanmarHouse.com in Myanmar; Zameen and PakWheels.com in Pakistan; MeQasa in Ghana, and AfriBaba.com in French-speaking Africa.

The companies span 19 frontier markets including Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique and Morocco. Founding shareholders Shaun Di Gregorio and Patrick Grove and Luke Elliott of Catcha Group, have been working together for more than six years. Catcha Group has floated four companies in its portfolio on the ASX.

Encuentra24 competes with a number of regional and global classified players, including Navent’s CompreoAlquile in Panama, La Nacion’s BuscoMiCasa in Costa Rica, MercadoLibre, as well as Naspers’ OLX.


These are just a couple of leading players operating in the Central American region. CompreoAlquile is a top-3 real estate classified player in Panama.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grivalia buys into island project in Panama

(Panama Business News ) Grivalia buys into island project in Panama

Grivalia Properties’ Luxembourg-based subsidiary Grivalia Hospitality SA on Tuesday announced its first investment, which concerns the acquisition of a 60 percent stake in the Pearl Island project in Panama from Dolphin Capital Investors.

The agreed price is 27 million euros in cash, Grivalia stated, of which 1 million has already been disbursed as an advance payment, while another 24 million will be paid upon the completion of the transaction and the remaining 2 million will be deposited in an escrow account for a period of 12 months.

Pearl Island, or Isla Pedro Gonzalez, is one of the biggest private islands of Panama’s Las Perlas Archipelago, with an area of 13.23 square kilometers.

Dolphin Capital Investors Ltd said Tuesday it is selling its interest in a private island development off the coast of Panama at a loss. In addition, Dolphin Capital said it will sell the 60% interest in Pearl Island to Grivalia Hospitality SA for a cash payment of EUR27.0 million.

The implied enterprise value of the project of EUR63.0 million is a 32% discount to the carrying value of the asset as at June 30, 2016 and will result in an EUR27.0 million loss on the sale, said Dolphin Capital. The sale price is also a 7% discount on Dolphin Capital's EUR29.0 million cost of investment in the project.

The deal is dependent on a corporate restructuring of the project to allow Grivalia to own shares directly in the subsidiaries that own the project, as well as the consent of hotel operator Ritz Carlton and the project's senior lender Banistmo SA. Dolphin Capital said it expects these conditions to be met or waived by the end of March.


"The disposal of Pearl Island, in addition to those made of Aristo Developers and Playa Grande, further underpins our commitment to delivering value for shareholders," said Andrew Coppel, chairman of Dolphin Capital.