LatinNews Daily - 13 October 2023

In brief: Panama protesters reject revised version of mining contract

*Panama’s influential construction workers’ union Sindicato Único Nacional de Trabajadores de la Construcción y Similares (Suntracs) and protest groups like Alianza Pueblo Unido por la Vida (Apuv) have rejected a modified version of the proposed contract between the government and Minera Panamá S.A. (MPSA), the subsidiary of Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals (FQM), regarding the copper mine Cobre Panamá. The mine is Panama’s biggest single private foreign investment, representing some 4% of the country’s GDP, and most of its export revenue. Last week the government led by President Laurentino Cortizo withdrew the proposed contract from the legislature and presented a modified version on 10 October. Among other things, the revised draft included changes such as the stipulation that MPSA can only explore, extract and exploit copper and its derivatives in the concession area in the Donoso and Omar Torrijos districts in Colón province (where the mine is located). A clause has been removed saying the state would consider granting exploring rights for gold, silver and molybdenum. The latest draft also removes a clause which would have allowed MPSA to request airspace restrictions and includes a new one “reaffirming that nothing in the contract restricts nor limits Panama’s sovereignty over its territory”. However protest groups reject the latest version saying it does not address their concerns. While an agreement between the Cortizo administration and FQM was reached in March regarding the contract, which guarantees a minimum annual revenue of US$375m for the government, it still requires approval from the national assembly.

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