Demonstrators tear down a police barricade during a protest against a recently approved mining contract between the government and Canadian mining company First Quantum, in Panama City, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)Demonstrators clash with the police during a protest against a recently approved mining contract between the government and Canadian mining company First Quantum, in Panama City, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023.
Panama’s legislature first agreed a contract extension with Canadian mining company First Quantum and it’s local subsidiary, Minera Panama, in March. The resulting protests — the largest since a cost of living crisis last July — have sparked a series of backtracks from President Laurentino Cortizo.
Initially it was unclear how persuasive environmental objections would prove against the mine’s demonstrated economic promise. It is the largest private investment in Panama’s history and already creates roughly 3% of the country’s gross domestic product. headtopics.com
Critics warned using a new law to revoke the contract could leave the government liable to legal action from Minera Panama. If, however, the Supreme Court declared the contract unconstitutional, lawyers said it would be annulled without the risk of possible multi-million dollar lawsuits.
The contract would allow 20-40 more years of open pit copper mining across 13,000 hectares of forested land just 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of the capital, in the state of Colon. Environmentalists argue continued mining would imperil drinking water and destroy more forest. headtopics.com
In the last two decades, Panama has already lost roughly 8.5% of its total tree cover, mostly to agriculture, according to satellite image analysis by Global Forest Watch. Almost the same amount again has been disturbed by industrial activity.