April 15, 2024

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Panama’s president signs indefinite moratorium on new mining concessions law

1 min read

PANAMA CITY, Panama – On Friday, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortiso signed a law suspending new mining concessions indefinitely. The law also prohibits the extension of existing concessions.

The contract allows Minera Panama, a subsidiary of Canadian mining company First Quantum, to operate an open-pit copper mine in the state of Colón for 20 years, with the possibility of a further 20-year extension.

Environmentalists argue that the mine will destroy the dense jungle and jeopardize local drinking water.

The new law still allows the Panamanian mining company to continue mining, but it is a major victory for environmentalists and protesters.

Panama’s president signs indefinite moratorium on new mining concessions law

Some lawyers welcomed the decision and warned that revoking the mining contract could expose the government to millions of dollars in legal liability. However, experts say those liabilities could be avoided if the country’s Supreme Court rules the original contract unconstitutional in any of the eight such cases brought against the deal so far.

Another bill is awaiting debate that would put the contract to a referendum.

Protests continued across the country on Friday, drawing supporters from indigenous groups as well as labor unions in the education, construction and healthcare industries.

In 2017, El Salvador became one of the first countries to impose a total ban on metal mining, saying the measure was aimed at protecting water sources.

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