Panama bans new mining concessions after a week of protests
(CNN in Spanish) — On Friday, Panama’s President, Laurentino Cortizo, signed a decree banning the granting of new mining concessions, after the country this week witnessed protests against the government’s contract with the Panama copper mining company Minera.
Cortizo announced in a message to the nation that as of Friday all new franchise applications and those in process will be rejected. This excludes the aforementioned Minera Panamá contract, which has already been authorized. However, the agreement is under review by the country’s Supreme Court of Justice, after a lawyer filed a lawsuit for unconstitutionality on the grounds that the legislative process was illegal.
Unions and social organizations have led protests throughout the week in Panama to assert that Panama’s Minera concession leads to environmental damage, among other claims. Some clashes and checkpoints occurred as part of the demonstrations.
Panama’s National Police Commissioner, Elmer Caballero, said on Friday in a video message posted on the social media network the theft.
Previously, Cabinet spokesmen, including Trade Minister Federico Alfaro, defended the contract, ensuring a better economic agreement and better conditions.
CNN asked Minera Panamá – a subsidiary of Canadian company First Quantum – to comment on accepting the lawsuit, but it has not yet responded.
In a statement on Monday, First Quantum CEO Tristan Pascal referred to the mine as “an important contribution to Panama and its people”; We are committed to the responsible management of the mine, including positive impacts on the workforce, neighboring communities and the environment.