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Panama: government approves plan for orderly closure of copper mine

Panama: government approves plan for orderly closure of copper mine

The Panamanian Government approved this Tuesday the plan for the “orderly closure” of the copper mine operated by Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum Minerals (FQM)disqualified since last November when Justice declared “unconstitutional” the contract that renewed its concession.

The action plan to execute the closure of the Panama Cobre Mine, the largest in Central America, was endorsed today by a resolution of the Cabinet (Council of Ministers) chaired by the president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, said a Government statement.

The resolution asks the ministries of Commerce and Industries (MICI) and the Environment (MiAmbiente) to manage the administrative measures so that Minera Panamá, according to current environmental legislation, guarantees the “physical and chemical stability of the environmental ecosystems and infrastructure in the Panama Copper Mine and its surrounding areas.”

Likewise, this plan includes a closing audit in order to identify the “environmental situation of the mine, environmental risks and their mitigation measures.”

For its part, the Ministry of Health will be responsible for formulating, planning, directing, coordinating, executing, supervising and evaluating strategies for the prevention and control of health in general.

In addition, a comprehensive audit of mining process management control is proposed, which provides the Panamanian State with the relevant technical information for optimal application and supervision of the processes required for the execution of the orderly and definitive mine closure plan.

It also contemplates that the MICI and MiAmbiente promote the creation of a panel of technical experts, as well as mechanisms for consultation, participation and citizen oversight, hand in hand with the technical-scientific support of the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (Senacyt). .

In turn, the Labor and Labor Development portfolio will verify compliance with the labor provisions applicable to the existing employment relationship between the workers of the Panama Copper Project and Minera Panamá and its subcontractors.

For its part, the Ministry of Public Security will guarantee security, tranquility and public order in the facilities of the Cobre Panamá Mine and its adjacent areas.

The defense of Panama’s interests before any national or international body, as a consequence of compliance with the ruling issued by the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court of Justice, will be the task of the MICI and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

FQM has already announced the initiation of international arbitration before a court based in Miami (USA) and has shown its intention to initiate others based on commercial agreements with Canada and South Korea.

In another point of the resolution it is indicated that, through the MEF, the Development Planning Institute will establish the bases for “formulate, approve and execute a strategy for the sustainable substitution of metallic mining in the National Gross Domestic Product” (GDP).

The Cobre mine represented 4.8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 75% of Panama’s exports, according to data from the company, which began exporting that mineral in 2019.

The execution of “Environmental Preservation and Safe Management Plan (care and maintenance) as a temporary phase and first step towards the Ordered Plan for the Definitive Closure of the Panama Cobre Mine”, It is aimed at complying with the ruling of unconstitutionality of the mining contract, the official information indicates.

Last December, the Government announced a strategy for the orderly and definitive closure of the mine, the development of which will take between 6 and 18 months at a cost of US$ 1.5 million, and whose execution could take between 7 and 9 years at a cost of between 800 and US$ 1,000 million.

The mine, disabled by a judicial ruling by the Panamanian Supreme Court on November 27 after the largest street protests in decades in Panama against mining activity, had about 7,000 workers, of which “2,100 more or less have taken voluntary retirement”according to sources from the mining company.

Source: Gestion

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