Business & Economy

First Quantum warns of environmental consequences of Cobre Panamá closure

Toronto, Canada, Dec 1 (EFE) – Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals (FQM) warned Friday that the closure of the Cobre Panamá mine will have unforeseen environmental consequences that have not been taken into account by Panama’s Supreme Court.

FQM also warned that the ruling, which suspends the mining contract with the state, jeopardizes conservation programs funded by the company.

The corporation said it was “requesting additional details regarding the ruling and its implications,” adding that it was aware of comments by Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo that “there will be a transition process” for the mine’s closure.

FQM, whose subsidiary Minera Panamá SA (MPSA) operates Cobre Panamá, stressed that the Supreme Court’s decision “does not take into account a planned and managed closure scenario in which important environmental measures are required” to maintain the safety of the site.

Specifically, FQM pointed to the handling of tailings storage ponds and water treatment to prevent breaches.

In addition, it noted that the future of rehabilitation, reforestation and species conservation programs “as well as the protection of nearly 20% of the total protected areas in Panama” currently funded by Cobre Panamá must be considered.

FQM also warned that, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling and Cortizo’s statements, it was “suspending its production forecasts for Cobre Panamá” in 2023 and confirmed that it had initiated two arbitration processes.

On November 29, MPSA “initiated arbitration proceedings before the International Court of Arbitration to protect its rights under the 2023 concession agreement approved by the Panamanian government earlier this year.”

In addition, on November 14, FQM notified the Panamanian Ministry of Commerce and Industry of its intention to “initiate arbitration proceedings to enforce its rights under international law in accordance with the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.”

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the legal contract approved by the Cortizo’s government on October 20 to renew the exploitation of Cobre Panamá, because it violates 25 articles of the Panamanian Constitution.

The renewal of the contract through an express process sparked weeks of serious protests in the Central American nation, resulting in at least four deaths and threatening the political stability of the government.

On Thursday, the Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry, who negotiated the renewal contract, Federico Alfaro, presented his resignation to “give space to the broad and sincere dialogue that the country demands”. EFE


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