Fishermen have clashed with police in Panama as a CSL Group bulker tried to dock during anti-mining protests.

The EFE news agency reported that the incident on Thursday occurred as authorities tried to escort the 71,000-dwt Canadian-controlled CSL Tarantau (built 2013) into the Caribbean port of Punta Rincon.

Copper mining company Minera Panama, a subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (FQM), has been the focus of protests for two weeks over a controversial new contract with the government.

Fishermen have been blockading the terminal.

They claimed clouds of white smoke could be seen on Thursday, which they claimed was tear gas fired by police.

Panama’s National Aeronaval Service, or Senan, said during the incident that they appealed for “limited use of force”.

Senan had reported it was going to provide an “emergency” escort for the bulker loaded with coal due to a risk of “spontaneous combustion” of the cargo if it became hotter.

This was at the request of the vessel, the report said.

Senan added that protesters “threw stones and blunt homemade objects” and the docking was called off.

AIS data showed the vessel underway again on Friday, with no destination port registered.

The bulker had left Colombia at the end of October.

Contract renewal

Protests began after Panama President Laurentino Cortizo signed a contract renewal for 20 years.

The mine’s union said on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with the company to guarantee salaries as protests and blockades prevent them from working.

The blockades “put at risk the daily bread of some 7,000 workers who are also Panamanians who have not been able to return to our posts to make a living in a dignified way”, the union said in a statement cited by Reuters.

“We have signed agreements with the company to guarantee salary for the workers,” the statement said.

Minera Panama has not commented.

CSL Group has been contacted for further information.