LatinNews Daily - 20 January 2022

In brief: Activists reject Panama mining contract

* The Panamanian environmental NGO Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (CIAM) has rejected a new contract signed by the government led by President Laurentino Cortizo and Minera Panamá, the local subsidiary of Canadian mining firm First Quantum which owns Cobre Panamá, Panama’s largest copper mine. On 18 January the Cortizo government confirmed the conclusion of negotiations whereby the company would pay the country a minimum of US$375m in royalties a year, which the government claims is “more than ten times the amount” received between 2019 and 2021. President Cortizo also insisted that the contract guarantees measures for “environmental protection”. However, CIAM warns that the new contract fails to take into account the “immense natural and cultural richness that is being destroyed in a protected area key for…biodiversity”. It also points out that so far 295 environmental accidents have been tallied within this area and questions the legality of the contract, citing an earlier (December 2017) ruling by the supreme court (CSJ) which deemed unconstitutional the initial contract authorised in 1997 to Minera Panamá (then Minera Petaquilla, which was at the time owned by Canada’s Petaquilla Minerals).

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