The Canadian miner announced the program to help the Panamanian society to get a first-hand experience of what was happening at the site of the copper mine, according to a post from the company's Panama unit on social media platform X.

"The ministry informed them (First Quantum) that these type of decisions, not only the visits but any other activity, needs to be previously consulted with the trade ministry or the appropriate entity," Jorge Rivera, Panama's Trade Minister said on Wednesday.

First Quantum did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Panama government and First Quantum are at odds over the future of the Cobre Panama mine, one of the newest and biggest copper mines in the world. The Central American nation ordered the shutdown of the mine late last year after public protests over environmental concerns.

First Quantum said last month the community relations program was announced after an opinion poll by Gallup found that about half of those interviewed expressed interest in visiting the mine.

The mine's activity represented about 5% of the country's gross domestic product, and Panama's GDP growth in 2024 is expected to slow to 2.5% from 7.5% due to its closure, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Cobre Panama accounted for about 40% of First Quantum's 2023 revenue and the suspension has was wiped out about half of First Quantum's market value since the protests started, forcing the company to take a series of capital restructuring measures to manage its debt load.

The company is seeking $20 billion from the Panama government through international arbitration.

First Quantum shares fell 3.8% on Thursday, while the benchmark Canadian stock index rose 0.9%.

(Reporting by Divya Rajagopal, Elida Moreno and Valentire Hilaire; Editing by Jamie Freed)