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    New Legislation Impacts Copper Mining Industry in Panama

    ByThemba Hadebe

    Nov 20, 2023
    New Legislation Impacts Copper Mining Industry in Panama

    In a recent development that has stirred public outcry, Panama has authorized a new law that has significant repercussions for the country’s copper mining industry. Under this legislation, First Quantum, one of the world’s leading copper mining companies, has been granted the right to operate for the next two decades. However, the decision has met with widespread resistance from local communities, who have taken to the streets to demand the immediate cancellation of the contract.

    These protests have been fueled by concerns over transparency and public input in the negotiation and approval processes of the contract. Critics argue that the contract was fast-tracked without proper consultation, leaving communities feeling disenfranchised and their voices unheard. Furthermore, corruption allegations against lawmakers involved in the contract have further intensified the discontent among the population.

    Amidst mounting pressure, President Laurentino Cortizo has responded by announcing that a referendum will be held on December 17th to determine whether the controversial contract should be revoked. This decision reflects the government’s recognition of the valid concerns raised by the public and their commitment to seeking a democratic resolution to the issue.

    In addition to the referendum, President Cortizo has also implemented a decree that not only bans all new metal mining activities but also imposes additional restrictions on those who have already applied for mining permits. These measures are aimed at addressing the concerns of the communities affected by mining operations and ensuring that their voices are heard in future decision-making processes.

    Cobre Panamá, the copper mine at the center of this controversy, holds significant economic importance for the country. Accounting for 3.5% of Panama’s gross domestic product, the mine complex plays a significant role in the nation’s economy. With an estimated 3.1 billion tonnes of proven and probable reserves, Cobre Panamá has the potential to produce over 300,000 tonnes of copper annually, contributing approximately 1.5% to global copper production.

    Thus, the current situation in Panama represents a crucial moment in the country’s mining industry. It highlights the growing significance of public participation and transparency in decision-making processes that impact local communities. As the referendum approaches, the outcome will not only determine the fate of the controversial contract but also set a precedent for future resource extraction projects in Panama.


    What is the controversy surrounding the copper mining contract in Panama?

    The controversy stems from allegations of limited public input and transparency in the negotiations and approval of the contract. Protestors have demanded the immediate cancellation of the contract, citing corruption allegations against lawmakers involved.

    When will the referendum to revoke the contract take place?

    The referendum is scheduled for December 17th.

    What measures has the Panamanian government implemented in response to the protests?

    President Laurentino Cortizo has issued a decree that bans all new metal mining activities and imposes additional restrictions on those who have applied for mining permits.

    – [Panama mining referendum article](https://example.com)
    – [Cobre Panamá mine statistics](https://example.com)