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Minera Panama workers ask the new government for a “solution as soon as possible”

Unionized workers of Panama Mininga subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum Minerals (FQM) and disqualified by a court ruling by the Panamanian Supreme Court last November, asked the Government to find “a solution as soon as possible“on the current situation of the mine, while demanding clarification of what is happening with the copper concentrate still stored.

We ask President (José Raúl) Mulino to please listen to us. Go to the mine, reactivate the topic of visits, so that they can see the reality.“, the leader of the Union of Workers of the Panama Mining, Michael Camacho.

Minera Panamá workers sent a letter to President José Raúl Mulino last Monday with a series of considerations to find “a solution as soon as possible“to this labor, social and environmental situation.

Thus they have proposed to create a “dialogue table” for “address the major economic and social challenges arising from the closure of the mine“such as unemployment of workers and suppliers and the copper concentrate that still remains, among other 14 points, highlights the letter.

The mine, which was closed by a court 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 or so have opted for voluntary retirement“, according to sources from the mining company.

The Panamanian president has announced plans to temporarily reopen the large Canadian-owned copper mine, although the process will depend on the outcome of an environmental study on its condition.

On this, Camacho said that what the workers expect is that “that it is done in a responsible manner“He also recalled that the surrounding communities, which work directly or indirectly with the mine, are being affected by this closure.”abrupt”.

Communities have been affected directly and indirectly. There were farmers and producers who now have no way to sell their products, the roads are abandoned. We are calling on the Government to raise its awareness.“, he added.

Copper concentrate, a latent danger

The union leader took the opportunity to warn of the danger of the copper concentrate, which is stored in the mine and which the previous government, according to Camacho, “did not clarify“on the handling of these materials.

This copper concentrate is currently a danger to workers and communities surrounding the project and to the environment.“, he said.

There are 120,000 tons of copper concentrate stored at the mine, and if it has been kept there awaiting export authorization, “an increase in drying and chemical reactions that produce dangerous gases and raise temperatures” has been observed, according to a mine report presented last April.

The government of former President Laurentino Cortizo (2020-2024) announced in December 2023 a strategy for the orderly and definitive closure of the mine, the preparation 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 1,000 million dollars.

FQM has already initiated an international arbitration process before a court based in Miami (USA), for US$ 20,000 million according to press reports, and has expressed its intention to initiate others based on trade agreements with Canada and South Korea.

Currently, the mine, which began exporting in 2019 and in 2022 came to represent 2% of the world’s copper production according to data provided to EFE by the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), is in the maintenance and preservation phase.

Source: Gestion

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