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Canadian Copper Mining Company Minera Panama and Its 2+ Decade Old Petaquilla Mining Operation


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Minera Panama continues to operate without interruption


Posted 03/11/2023

The Canadian mining giant First Quantum Minerals (FQM) said  Friday, November 3 that the controversial Cobre Panamá mine continues to operate without interruptions, although it acknowledged that the protests in Panama are causing problems and a shortage of some supplies.

In a statement, FQM explained that the protests and blockades of "key roads" are causing problems, and noted that it is pending the evolution of the constitutionality appeals of the controversial Law 406, which grants it the right to exploit the Cobre Panamá mine through its subsidiary Minera Panamá (MPSA).

The Canadian company was "confident regarding its legal position and that of MPSA" and added that it "reserves all its rights and those of MPSA in Panama and internationally."

After a week of sharp declines in shares, FQM shares opened higher, with a gain of almost 9% shortly after the start of trading on the Toronto market.

Since Monday, FQM shares have lost 32% of their value.

On Sunday, October 29, Panama President, Laurentino Cortizo, announced that he will call a referendum on December 17 on the renewal of the controversial contract with MPSA for the exploitation of Cobre Panamá.

The renewal of the contract for the operation of the mine, located about 120 kilometers west of Panama City and which began production in 2019, has caused serious protests across Panama since last October 23.

Panamanian activists have denounced that the new contract maintains the same problems that led to the previous one being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and that the economic benefits do not compensate for the environmental damage of the open pit mine, the largest in Central America.

40,000 jobs 

FQM insists that it is "proud of its contribution to Panama" and that the mine is the largest private investment in the country's history, contributing almost 5% to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and has created 40,000 direct and indirect jobs.

"FirstQuantum is a responsible mining company that takes its obligations very seriously. The company respects its legal obligations, both local and international, and follows high standards of ethical behavior in its conduct as a company," the company said.


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Minera mineworkers  union rejects moratorium


Posted 04/11/2023

The Union of Mining Workers of Panama (UTRAMIPA ) affirms that they will defend their jobs, reject any attempt to close the mine, and denounce the attacks and threats that some workers have suffered due to blockades of access to the mine.

In an official statement, UTRAMIPA spoke about the recent sanction of Law 407, which establishes a mining moratorium in Panama.  after rejecting the proposals for popular consultation and repeal of the mining contract.

The decision is based on waiting for a resolution from the Supreme Court on the claims of unconstitutionality presented by some sectors of the citizenry.

UTRAMIPA expresses its concern about the possible consequences of the declaration of unconstitutionality of the mining contract.

Firstly, they pose the risk of serious economic consequences and international lawsuits that could lead the country to face billions in compensation, endangering the financial stability of the State.

This could negatively affect the perception of the country as a reliable destination for private investments and international credit.

Mine workers also face uncertainty regarding the stability of their jobs and the security of their families. In addition to direct employees, thousands of workers from contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and businesses related to the mine are also affected by this situation.

UTRAMIPA emphasizes its firm rejection of any decision, initiative or action that could lead to the closure of its source of employment, which would have a devastating impact on the finances of workers and their families.

At the same time, the group calls on banking entities to consider the possible impact in the event of job losses, and they are urged to be aware of the financial difficulties that this could generate in society.

The statement also highlighted the importance of the mining industry in Panama and the pride of workers in their contribution to the development of the country.

The commitment of mining workers to high environmental, technological, and quality standards in their daily work is recognized.

UTRAMIPA deeply regrets the violence and clashes that have arisen as a result of the situation, as well as the losses suffered by the population in general.

The population is called upon to act reasonably and avoid being influenced by political interests or groups that seek to destabilize the country.

Finally, the attacks and threats that some workers have suffered due to blockades at access to the mine are reported.

UTRAMIPA declares its willingness to defend their jobs and the livelihood of their families in this situation, regardless of the consequences.


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 “Illegal blockage” reduces Minera Panamá  processing capacity


Posted 13/11/2023

Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining giant First Quantum, reported  Monday that it began to reduce its mineral processing capacity.

In a statement, the concession company for the Cobre Panamá project alleged that the reduction in operations is due to an “illegal blockage” caused by small vessels in the mine's Punta Rincón port, in Colón.

“Illegal actions at the port have affected the delivery of supplies to the power generation plant, which is necessary for full operation and for the safe management of the environment, including the operation and maintenance of the tailings management facility. In addition, illegal actions have hindered the loading of copper concentrate on ships,” the company details.

Beyond the specific effects of the closures, First Quantum has lost more than 40% of its value since President Laurentino Cortizo called for a public consultation on the mining contract. His shares have plummeted while mining activity faces fierce opposition from citizens, environmental groups, indigenous peoples, and unionized workers.

There is widespread discontent over the approval of the contract, the terms reached, and the possible irreparable environmental damage during the term of the agreement, for 20 years, extendable.

“In the event that normal activities at the port are not restored, the decrease in mineral processing at Cobre Panamá will have a direct impact on more than 7,000 employees and contractors, as well as another 40,000 people whose livelihoods directly depend on the provision of services to the mine,” the company said.

Minera Panamá detailed that they are adopting a “systematic and responsible approach to adjust their operations based on these circumstances.”

Currently, there are nine unconstitutionality lawsuits filed in the Supreme Court of Justice against Law 406, of October 2023, which renewed the contract between Minera Panamá and the Panamanian State. At the same time, various groups in the country maintain their protest actions rejecting the contract, which has generated a social crisis.

Street closures, clashes, and riots in the country have resulted in the death of 4 people and more than 1,000 detainees.


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Unraveling presidential statement about $567 million Minera payment


Laurentino Cortizo - President

Posted 18/11/2023

The $567 million that the State received from Minera Panama as a result of the obligations established in the law contract, will not be used by the Government and will be kept in a restricted account in the National Bank of Panama.

This was announced  Thursday by President Cortizo and validated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), which gave rise automatically to questions about the measure, the reasons behind it, and on what basis such a decision was made, especially because these are retroactive payments, to a large extent.

When the president made the announcement, there were immediate responses via X that it was better for Minera Panamá not to deposit the funds derived from a contract that may lose validity; Others warned that the money was for operations from 2021 to 2023 and for this reason Panama already belonged to them. Some even denied the funds because it was an extractive activity that they did not want in the country.

As agreed between Minera Panamá SA and the State, 30 days after the contract was sanctioned, the company had to make initial payments to cover taxes and royalties until the end of 2022, which amounted to approximately $395 million.

This corresponds to a type of settlement, linked to the fiscal period that runs from December 22, 2021, to December 31, 2022.

In addition, it had to make payments corresponding to corporate taxes for the year 2023, as well as quarterly royalty payments, all within the same 30-day period.

Of the total $567 million, the General Directorate of Revenue received the sum of $562.8 million from Minera Panamá. Additionally, the Ministry of Environment and the municipalities of Donoso and Omar Torrijos Herrera received $4.2 million which corresponds to the payment of water use, surface fee, and use and easement rights.

This initial disbursement covers the period between December 2021 and October 2023, Minera Panamá said in a statement.

However when the year 2023 ends, it is assumed that the mining company's total contributions will be $770 million.

“Given that we are awaiting the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, I have given precise instructions to the MEF so that these sums of money received to date cannot be used,” said Cortizo.

In the Supreme Court, there are 10 unconstitutionality lawsuits against Law 406 of October 20, 2023, which adopted the contract between the Panamanian State and Minera Panamá,

Iván Zarak, former vice minister of Economy, explained that the first step is to recognize the income in this year's fiscal accounts. "And if they want to incorporate or use it as part of the budget, they have to approve an additional credit."

“If the contract is declared unconstitutional, then there are several options on the table and depending on them, different results. Meanwhile, the State and the mine have to comply with what is established in the contract,” he stated.

“In the condition that the country is in, it is better that they not spend it, although they should recognize it as income this year,” stressed the former vice minister of Economy.

 Starting November 24, the Supreme  Court will declare itself in permanent session to debate the decision of the unconstitutionality claims of Law 406 of October 20, 2023. Previously, in December 2017 and June 2021, the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court of Justice decided unanimously, on both occasions, that Law 9 of 1997, a direct predecessor of Law 406, was unconstitutional.


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 Starting November 24, the Supreme  Court will declare itself in permanent session to debate the decision of the unconstitutionality claims of Law 406 of October 20, 2023. Previously, in December 2017 and June 2021, the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court of Justice decided unanimously, on both occasions, that Law 9 of 1997, a direct predecessor of Law 406, was unconstitutional.

If in 1997 law 9 (which was a predecessor to Law 406  ) was voted UNCONSTITUTIONAL, why would there be any doubt that a contract renewal ( Law 406 ) would be met with resistance ?   I am not understanding this apparent lack of awareness of public opinion on behalf of the President.  



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Day of frustration as Panama highway closures continue


Posted 20/11/2023

Panama’s main roads were blocked on Monday, November 20, as announced by the groups that make up the "Alianza Pueblo Unidos por la Vida", a movement that demands on the streets the repeal of Law 406 that renewed the contract between Minera Panamá and the state.

At around 7:00 am a group of workers from the Construction and Similar Workers Union (Suntracs) closed the Centenario highway, in front of Merca Panamá. At around 9:00 am the group left and traffic through the site was regularized.

Via España, in front of the Iglesia del Carmen, was also closed by the teaching unions and The Transisthmian highway remains blocked in front of the University of Panama.

Traffic in a section of the South corridor was interrupted. The National Highway Company (ENA) reported at 8:13 am that access to the corridor, via Vía Israel, towards Tocumen, was closed.

Another group of workers with flags occupied the four lanes of Balboa Avenue.

In the La Pesa sector, in La Chorrera, province of Panama Oeste, the road was closed by educators and workers waving flags. In the Arraiján capital, they also took to the streets, and traffic was halted.

The Howard area was also closed, which affected traffic on the Las Américas bridge.

In Santiago, province of Veraguas, the Inter-American highway remains blocked under the vehicular bridge. Over 10 points of the Inter-American Highway remain blocked in the province of Chiriquí.


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Biomuseo could be the next victim of mining protests


 Posted 21/11/2023

The current crisis due to protests has reduced the iconic Biomuseum's cash flow by 70%. and has caused the cancellation of all visits and events for the remainder of the year.

They have reduced their staff by 50% and are only opening on weekends.

The Biomuseo has seen its cash flow reduced since October, which jeopardizes the operation of the site and faces the risk of “total and definitive closure,” the organization warned in a letter addressed to its donors allies, and friends.

The cash deficit exceeds $30,000 a month, so they are considering a possible total closure plan in case “the situation does not normalize in the coming weeks,” says the letter signed by Ana Lucrecia Tovar de Zarak and Víctor Cucalón, president and executive director of the Amador Foundation, which manages the Biomuseo.

The difficult financial moment that the Biomuseo is going through,  is attributed by its administration to the political crisis generated by the protests against the mining contract, which in turn caused visitors to cancel their tickets and visit plans for the remainder of the year, including scheduled student tours from the country, cancellations of tour operators, disembarkation of cruise ships, conferences and various family and international events.

In the letter, the directors of the Amador Foundation indicate that they have canceled or delayed payments for service contracts with third parties, have reduced their payroll by 50%, are only opening on weekends, and are managing payment arrangements for basic water services, electricity, and insurance.

The letter is dated November 16 of this year and ends with a call to its donors and allies to purchase tour packages for next year and to make donations of any amount to mitigate the minimal cash flow they are experiencing.

The over $90 million museum was designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry and promoted by the Amador Foundation, with the support of donors, private companies, and the government of Panama. In the complex, there are eight galleries that explain how the emergence of Panama changed the world 3 million years ago.


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Anti-mining protests devastating Panama tourism


Posted 21/11/2023

The ongoing protests against the mining contract between Panama and Minera Panama have hit the country’s tourism industry hard with potential visitors fearing they will be trapped in the closures, and even exposed to the danger of attacks. Foreign tourists continue to cancel reservations some cruise routes have changed their itineraries and conventions and events canceled… all of this translates into the loss of income and customers.

The flow of travelers to and from Panama fell by 15.48% in October

The road blockades to the interior of the country have caused losses of $60 million for domestic tourism operators.

Ernesto Orillac, a member of Camtur, adds that the arrival of more than 56 cruise operations and the Home Port in Panamanian ports is at risk.

“The street closures in Panama City, Colón, and other inland areas negatively impact tourists' perception of the country's security and what we see is that these closures and the vandalism that currently exists have nothing to do with the legitimate peaceful protest that occurred against the mining contract,” said Orillac, pointing out that the avenues must be opened and wait for the decision of the Supreme Court.

Orillac mentions that according to the Panama Tourism Promotion Fund (Promtur), between 68,000 and 70,000 international visitors who had planned to come between November and December of this year will not enter the country. This will mean about $400 million dollars that will no longer be generated throughout the tourism production chain.

“This money that was going to enter the economy to benefit a value chain that goes from taxi drivers, transporters, restaurants, operators, guides, sales of crafts, hotels, shopping centers, and other services will no longer be received,” Orillac added. , indicating that many jobs in the commercial sector, inland hotels, and restaurants, among others, are being put at risk.

In addition to the $400 million dollars that will no longer be generated due to the non-arrival of international tourists, Orillac mentions that in domestic tourism at least 60 million dollars have been lost due to the cancellations and suspension of trips to the interior during the days of national holidays. and it is estimated that an additional 30 million dollars will also be lost corresponding to this coming weekend due to the long weekend that some people usually take coinciding with November 28, the day of Panama's independence from Spain.


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Minera Panamá announces possible suspension of operations


Posted 20/11/2023

Minera Panamá announced the "possible temporary suspension of operations" in a statement on Monday morning, November 20.

"Due to the illegal blockages by small vessels that have taken place in the international port of Punta Rincón - site of unloading of materials and supplies used for the operation of the mine, Minera Panamá has reduced its operations to a processing train of ore and expects to run out of supplies for the power generation plant approximately mid-week beginning today, November 20, 2023" ; said the Minera Panamá statement.

Minera Panamá points out that "the blockades are preventing the delivery of supplies necessary to operate the power plant. Regardless of the needs of operations, the safety and well-being of Minera Panamá's workforce is the priority of the company".

"Local authorities are present and continue to monitor and evaluate the situation to achieve a definitive return to maritime operations. If illegal actions continue to prevent the supplies necessary to operate the power plant, the company will reduce the remaining processing train this week and will temporarily suspend production," Minera Panamá indicated.

The mining company points out that it represents more than 2% of Panama's total active population and collaborates with local suppliers worth almost 20 million dollars per week.

"The general economic contribution of the mine to the State of Panama is estimated at more than 50 million dollars per week, the equivalent of around 5% of GDP. This income could be affected if the operation of the mine does not continue. The company "continues to reserve all its local and international legal rights with respect to developments in Panama," Minera Panamá said.

The company reiterated " its willingness to open new spaces for dialogue, in order to address the concerns of the various sectors of society , and to create lasting relationships based on respect, cordiality, understanding, and mutual benefit."


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Future of mining in Panama rests with Supreme Court


Posted 24/11/2023

The future of, Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of Canadian mining giant First Quantum is in the hands of the nine magistrates of Panama’s Supreme Court who began a permanent session at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 24 to hear 10 challenges to the constitutionality of Law 106, which adopts the contract between the Panamanian State and Minera Panamá, SA whose fast track signing by President Laurentino Cortizo led to a month of nationwide protests and road closures damaging the economy and driving tourists away. 

While many marches were peaceful some were accompanied by vandalism. There were four deaths including two murders, and scores of injuries to police and protestors.  


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Minera Panama launches arbitration


 Posted 01/12/2023

The Minera Panamá company, a subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, announced that on November 29 it began an arbitration process before the International Court of Arbitration after the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice that declared Law 406 on the mining contract unconstitutional.

The arbitration agreement will be carried out in Miami, Florida, the company highlighted in a statement released this Friday, December 1.

The mining company alleges that the filing of the appeal is to protect its rights under the 2023 concession agreement that the government signed earlier this year with them.

He recalled that on November 14, First Quantum submitted a notification of intention to initiate arbitration to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Panama.

The statement reiterates that the Court's decision “ignores” a planned and managed closure scenario, in which key environmental measures must be implemented.


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Business Chamber calls for fast action on mine closure and economic fallout


Posted 03/12/2023

Following the ruling of the Supreme Court, concerning Law 406  “it is imperative that a series of steps and processes be quickly taken that establish the bases to carry out an orderly and responsible closure of mining operations in Donoso Colón,” said Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Agriculture (Cciap), on  December 3.

“Time and a significant investment, it is urgent to immediately define the steps that will lead us towards an ideal scenario,” says the organization.

The business union pointed out that, in the absence of a studied and agreed upon action plan, “it is necessary to urgently activate a multi-sector technical committee, led by individuals of recognized credibility and supported by various civil groups.”

The committee must carry out a process where a comprehensive action plan is defined in environmental, legal, and economic aspects. Furthermore, it is essential that it has the corresponding legitimacy so that its decisions are binding, stressed the Chamber which highlighted that this is an "eminently technical matter that must be addressed seriously and quickly."

Fast action
The union indicated that this matter must be organized “in a matter of days so that the country quickly has a clear route of what should happen,” so that the outcome is not an environmental disaster or the illegal exploitation of areas, such as has happened in other countries.

The Chamber also highlighted that, in addition to addressing the future of mining activity, it is essential to consider a recovery plan for the affected economic sectors, as well as for students who have experienced delays and the country's international reputation that has been harmed. In turn, it is “necessary to design a preparation plan for the potential loss of investment grade and its future recovery.”

The unanimous decision that was communicated by the magistrates in recent days had the country in expectation, since since the approval of the law and publication in the Official Gazette, on October 20, Panama was immersed in an economic and social crisis. conditioned by road blockades and demonstrations at the national level. As announced by the full Court, the controversial rule violates 25 articles of the Constitution.


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Canadian Government respects Panama  court mine ruling


Posted 04/12/2023

The Canadian Government said Monday,  December 4, that it respects the decision of the Supreme Court of  Panama that declared unconstitutional the law that allows the Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals (FQM) to exploit the Cobre Panamá mine.

When asked by EFE, a spokesperson for the Canadian Ministry of International Trade said "Canada respects the announced verdict of the Supreme Court of Panama and awaits more details about the decision."

The government spokesperson also indicated that both Canada's Minister of International Trade, Mary Ng, and other senior Canadian officials are in contact with Panamanian authorities.

"We are closely following the negotiations between the Government of Panama and First Quantum Minerals," he added.

FQM, which is based in Vancouver and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has not responded to EFE's requests and has simply indicated in a statement published on November 28 that it is reviewing the court's decision.

The company has also indicated that it has initiated "an arbitration before the International Court of Arbitration to protect its rights under the 2023 concession agreement that the Government of Panama agreed to earlier this year."

Additionally, on November 14, FQM notified Panama's Ministry of Commerce and Industries of its intention to "initiate an arbitration process to enforce its rights under international law by the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement."

FQM negotiated with the Government of Panamanian President, Laurentino Cortizo, the renewal of the contract for the exploitation of the Cobre Panamá mine to its subsidiary Minera Panamá SA despite widespread protests from environmental groups, indigenous organizations, unions and other groups.

The mine, which began production in 2019, is the largest open pit mine in Central America and one of the main sources of income for the country. The protests, in which at least five people died, forced Cortizo to announce last October that he would call a referendum on the controversial contract on December 17.But before it could be carried out, the Supreme Court of Panama issued a ruling on November 28 in which it described the law approving the contract with MPSA as "unconstitutional" for violating 25 articles of the Panamanian Constitution.


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Minera Panama launches voluntary retirement program

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Posted 04/12/2023

Minera Panamá announced Monday, December 4, that it began a voluntary retirement program for its workers.

The company signed an agreement with the majority union, the Union of Mining Workers of Panama (Utramipa), to open a special voluntary retirement program "for employees who wish to request it."

According to the company, the mutual agreement includes the payment of the money that is legally owed to them.

It also clarified that it reserves the right to accept workers' requests by mutual agreement since some of the jobs will still be necessary "for the care and conservation phase (non-operational) of the mine."

“Until there is a clearly established defined determination how many employees will finally be able to continue working in the company in care and conservation tasks,” Minera Panamá emphasized. According to the company, the decision was made following the publication of the Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of Law No.406.

 It recalled that the ruling prevents the operations of Cobre Panamá, "the situation of the collaborators has changed and new questions have arisen, which require clarification from the Government."Minera  Panamá insisted to the authorities that these issues, “along with others that are key to the environmental safety and protection of the site, remain unanswered” by the Government of Panama.


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Minera Panama to fire 4000 workers


Posted 08/12/2023

The Cobre Panamá project, operated by the company Minera Panamá SA, reported that it has been forced to request the Ministry of Labor and Labor Development (Mitradel) for authorization to terminate the contracts of more than 4,000 collaborators for justified economic reasons.

This, after receiving a formal communication from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) instructing them to 'end the extraction, processing, benefit, transportation, export, and marketing operations, as well as mining activities in general, and take the measures and provisions necessary and reasonable to maintain the safety of the facilities and avoid environmental loss or damage within the mining area.'

According to the company, this measure will be developed at the same time as the voluntary retirement program presented on December 3 in agreement with the UTRAMIPA union.

They maintain that in both cases, the benefits received by the workers are the same and include the payment of the money that is legally owed to them. 'The only difference is that the administrative process before Mitradel can take up to two months to be resolved,' they indicated.

Minera Panamá reiterates that some of the jobs will still need to be maintained to take the measures and provisions that are necessary and reasonable to maintain the safety of the facilities and avoid environmental losses or damage within the mining area.

Faced with this reality, the Cobre Panamá project reiterated its willingness to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with the Government, which will allow these and other concerns to be addressed in the face of the imminent closure of the mine.


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The tango history of mining in Panama


Posted 08/12/2023

The process to exploit the Petaquilla Hill mine began 32 years ago and during these three decades different governments and officials have intervened, some today have a position against open pit mining. The concession also changed ownership.

The beginning of this controversial story dates to exploration contract 27-A, signed on August 7, 1991, during the government of President Guillermo Endara (Rip). Over the 32 years since this journey began, some former officials and lawyers who initially supported the documents have changed their minds and now oppose open pit mining. In that story are Roberto Alfaro, José de los Santos Chen Barría, and the firm Galindo, Arias y López.

In 1991, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, through Roberto Alfaro, formalized said contract with Richard G. Fifer, representative of the company Geo-Recursos Internacional SA, to explore mineral resources in the towns of Coclé del Norte and San José del General, located in Donoso district, Colón, now converted into the Omar Torrijos district. The exploration contract for mineral resources was signed despite Decree 267 of 1969 being in force, which required bidding. At the end of the first four years and after complying with all the conditions established in Contract 27-A, signed in 1991 during the five-year term of President Pérez Balladares, Fifer, on behalf of Geo-Recursos Internacional, requested an extension to “explore, extract and exploit minerals such as gold, copper, and other minerals.”

At that moment, exploration contract 41 for Adrian Resources SA,  arose, which was endorsed by the comptroller at that time, José de los Santos Chen Barría, who currently rejects the mine, but it is the same one that he endorsed. This request was granted in 1996 and ratified by the National Assembly as Contract Law No. 9 on February 26, 1997, and was published in the Official Gazette on February 28, 1997.

Since 1997, the concessionaire has experienced multiple changes both in its name and in the structure of its shareholding. According to Gazette 25794 of May 18, Petaquilla arose due to the modification of the name of Adrian Resources, SA.

Added to that, resolution 2007-24 of March 1, 2007, of the National Directorate of Mineral Resources, details that through a memorial presented by the law firm Galindo, Arias & Lopez, in their capacity as special representatives of the company Adrian Resources SA, registered in the Public Registry, requested a concession for the exploration of metallic minerals (gold and others) in Donoso, province of Colón. According to Gazette 25794 of May 18, Petaquilla arose because of the modification of the name of Adrian Resources, SA.

According to the mining registry, the requested area is not covered by mining applications, concessions, or reserves. Through Resolution 2006-89 of May 2, 2006, the name of the company Adrian Resource SA, was changed to Petaquilla Minerals, which has met all the requirements of the law and the right to what was requested. Once the resolution was approved, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries declared the company Petaquilla Minerals eligible following the provisions of the Mineral Resources Code, for the exploration of metallic minerals (gold and others), in two areas of 3,600 hectares, located in the townships of Coclé del Norte and San José del General, district of Donoso, province of Coclé.

The Eligibility Resolution was published in the Official Gazette. The interested party submitted to the National Directorate of National Mineral Resources to attach the application file, the original, and a copy of the publication. The resolution was signed by Jaime Roquebert, National Director of Mineral Resources.

Minera Panamá entered the copper mine, the largest in Central America, after a series of sales of the concession that was in the hands of the company Minera Petaquilla and that must close due to the ruling of unconstitutionality.


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4,000 Cobre Panama mine workers in line to finalize employment

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Posted 16/12/2023

Some four thousand project workers of Cobre Panamá who agreed to leave by mutual agreement were called to the Megapolis convention center in Panama City on Saturday, December 16.

This aims to proceed with the voluntary departure of these people from the company after the Supreme Court declared the contract between First Quantum Minerals and the Panamanian State unconstitutional. which makes the operations of the mine in Donoso, Colón impossible.

Many of the workers arrived at the convention center as early as 4:00 a.m. in the late afternoon, and long lines of workers were still seen trying to complete the termination of the company's employment.

The Ministry of Labor and Labor Development (Mitradel) sent 22 officials to supervise and advise the workers who are being let go by the company.

“Everything required by Panamanian law regarding employment and causal contracts will be complied with; all benefits will be paid,” stated José Castillo, risk prevention engineer and Industrial Safety Superintendent at Cobre Panamá.

Castillo mentioned that there are workers from Colón, Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí, and Panama Oeste, in different branches such as engineering, operations, port operations, power plant, process plant, camps, cooking, cleaning, among others.

The representative of the Cobre Panamá company said that a group of people have closed the San Juanito road, after La Pintada, and "they cannot access it to bring some equipment to treat the water."

“We have been unemployed since the unconstitutionality came out, but we must bring in some equipment for the water management area. A mine cannot be turned off overnight, and that worries me because the security of the country is put at risk,” he added.

On December 4, Mitradel rejected, in the first instance, the request made by the company Minera Panamá to suspend approximately 7 thousand labor contracts.

At that time, the head of Labor, Doris Zapata, explained that they rejected the request because there is a cessation of mine operations that is not temporary, but definitive. “Obviously this results in the termination of employment of each of the workers,” she stated. The decision was appealed by legal representatives of the company.


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Environmental preservation first action in mine closing - Minister


 Posted 19/12/2023

The Minister of Commerce and Industries, Jorge Rivera Staff, said at a Tuesday, press conference that one of the first actions taken after the closure of the Donoso mine will be to guarantee the environmental preservation of the site.

Additionally, two additional strategies will be implemented; one related to the defense of Panama in international arbitrations and a plan to replace the Gross Domestic Product generated by the mining project.

For the orderly closure of the Minera Panamá project, the first plan is to activate a temporary environmental preservation and safe management plan.

In the strategy for the defense of the country's interests in international arbitrations, Staff stressed that work will be done in coordination with the ministries of Commerce and Industries and Economy and Finance and the Public Ministry; and a “legal advisory commission” will be formed.

Regarding the strategy for the sustainable substitution of metallic mining in the national GDP, he contributed that the execution of Law 407 on mining moratorium continues; with the collection of micro and macroeconomic data, with the development of cost and benefit analysis.

According to the Government, the work schedule establishes tasks that range from December 23, 2023, with the organization of the temporary phase of environmental preservation and safe management, until June 2024, with the beginning of the preparation of the Final Closure Plan and Post Closing.

There will be a “panel of experts” made up of authorities, civil society organizations, and scientists. He specified that the Ministry of Science and Technology already sent them a proposal in this regard, about which he did not give more details.

Last week the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which formed a table technique for the closure of the mine, requested the Government to be an observer in the process.


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Mine closure could cost hundreds of millions of dollars


 Posted 20/12/2023

The closure of the Donoso Copper Mine would entail costs that exceed hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years, according to the Minister of Commerce and Industries, Jorge Rivera Staff.

"In these cases, due to the size of the project and the international estimates that are used as references for other similar mine closures, the development and cost of the plan alone could be around 1 to 1.5 million dollars. A closure process "For a mine like this that has a duration, we could be talking about years. It could be 5 or 7 years. That is also part of the definition that we need to make with this panel of experts," said Staff.

He highlighted that there are several alternatives to assume the costs of closing the mine in Donoso, among them, whether they are assumed by the company responsible for it or by the Panamanian State.

"Let us remember that we are in a very particular circumstance, but in a normal circumstance, mine closures are paid for by the company that has a concession. This had been going on for years before the mine closure began due to the depletion of the deposits. The companies " start by making a reserve from a fund. This is not part of the case," he added.


The activation of the state of environmental preservation is important so that these infrastructures are not left and the tasks that must be carried out while we begin the preparation of the closure plan, Above all, the environmental and safety guarantees of the facilities are maintained," said Staff, given the concern of some people that the mine facilities in Donoso end up in the same conditions as the mine in Cerro Quema.

With respect to mining Cerro Quema  S.A. , the minister highlighted that the Ministry of Commerce and Industries proceeded to execute the ruling of Law 407 of moratorium and they have been notified of the cancellation of the requests that they had presented to the representatives, who have all the resources that the Law places them at their disposal to present actions.


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Minera Panama company calls for role in mine closure


Posted 22/12/2023

Since the Supreme Court ruling of the unconstitutionality of Law 406 governing the mining contract came into effect, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) has not given space to Minera Panamá to discuss the execution of the environmental stabilization measures for the site says the company in a statement released Friday, December 22, in which it raised its willingness to participate in formal discussions regarding the planning for safe management of the site.

The company stressed that it is necessary to establish a “panel with multidisciplinary experts and international organizations” to prepare a plan that includes their participation, “given our deep experience and knowledge of the site.”

The statement reiterated the call that both the access road to the mine and The international port must be cleared “as a matter of urgency.”

On previous occasions, the mining company has said that due to closures by protesters they cannot access to bring equipment to treat the water. “We hold the relevant authorities responsible for the environmental consequences that may occur if critical supplies remain unable to access the mine.”

Finally, Cobre Panamá stated that it has ceased all copper concentrate production work. “We strictly comply with Panamanian legislation and abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court.”


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Business sector demands government action on mine closing


Posted 28/12/2023

 One month after the historic ruling that declared the contract between Minera Panamá and the State unconstitutional, Panama’s business sector demanded that the Government take necessary action.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Agriculture  issued a statement Thursday for the "Government  to take control of access, to supervise correct and timely management of care and maintenance, demanding the responsibilities that correspond to the company."

The union requested the Government to “urgently” initiate an audit by an independent firm to establish a definitive baseline regarding the current state of the mining area in environmental, economic, and social matters. At the same time, the mining operations closure plan is detailed transparently and technically and transition decisions are made towards said process.

“As we have been pointing out, the Government has to control access to the site in Donoso so that the necessary care and maintenance activities can be carried out as soon as possible and prevent an environmental disaster,” said Adolfo Fábrega, president of the Chamber.

“We require that a care and maintenance plan for the site in Donoso be urgently executed in the first days of 2024,” he added.

He reiterated that what is proceeding at this time is the appointment of a commission to carry out the formulation of the mining closure plan, with its respective civil oversight, which could be made up of

On November 28, the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court of Justice unanimously declared Law 406, on the contract between Minera Panamá and the State, unconstitutional.

The contract was authorized by the Cabinet Council on October 10, 2023; endorsed by Comptroller General Gerardo Solís on October 13; presented to the National Assembly on October 16, and finally approved in the third debate, sanctioned by President Laurentino Cortizo and promulgated in the Official Gazette on October 20, all on the same day. This motivated the rejection of the citizens and led to month-long countrywide protests.


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Minera Panamá to continue voluntary retirement program


Posted 16/01/2024

Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of Canadian First Quantum, announced that it will continue with the voluntary retirement plan after the closure of the mine in the province of Colón.

This is the second phase of the program to reduce the last year. In the first stage, 2,900 workers took advantage of the voluntary retirement plan, and now the company is calling for another 1,500 to end its relationship with the company.

Minera Panamá assures that under the scheme, workers are receiving 100% of their labor benefits.

 Initially, the company had requested the Ministry of Labor (Mitradel) to suspend contracts, but the entity denied the request, arguing that the concession to continue operating had been canceled after the ruling of the Supreme Court determined that the mining contract violated 25 articles of the Constitution.

“The special voluntary retirement program will include the payment of all amounts established by labor legislation, which are: accumulated vacations, accumulated thirteenth month, seniority premium, and 100% of the corresponding compensation, as dictated by the Labor Code,” said  Minera Panamá.

In projections for 2024, First Quantum indicated that, for the moment, 1,400 workers will remain at the mine to carry out maintenance and care work, although it warned that the number could fall below a thousand, depending on the tasks carried out in the closure plan. pointed out that the monthly cost in the maintenance and care stage could reach $20 million per month.

On  Tuesday, January 16, Minera Panamá must deliver to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) the draft plan that will be applied for the definitive closure of the mine, which last year produced 331,000 tons of copper, remaining below the 350,000 in 2022.

During the first technical inspection carried out by the commission designated to execute the closure plan, the Minister of the MICI, Jorge Rivera Staff, indicated that all processing activity at the mine was stopped. He also mentioned that the closure of the project could take up to 8 years.

In the coming weeks, the Government must hire companies that will carry out environmental and technical audits to determine the current status of the concession and the final closure mechanism.


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Mine closing plan could cost $20 million a month


Posted 18/01/2024

Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of Canadian First Quantum delivered the maintenance and management plan that the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) required on Tuesday, January 16.

In a two-page statement, the company listed the points contained in the plan.

The company highlighted that the execution of the document will depend on the source of financing, but it did not make clear reports La Prensa whether it will provide the funds or if the Government will have to finance the work, after the Supreme Court declared the contract unconstitutional, in a ruling issued on November 28.

“The activities contemplated in the plan entail costs that are estimated in tens of millions of dollars per month and require sources of continuous financing that must be defined promptly to guarantee the objectives and sustainability of the plan,” the company indicated.

In a preliminary report on 2024 projections, First Quantum indicated that the mine preservation and safe management program would cost between $15 million and $20 million per month, but added that everything will depend on the activities carried out.

To carry out the maintenance tasks, Minera Panamá indicates that it will be necessary to maintain a workforce of 1,400 workers, a number that would decrease as the phases of the closure plan are completed, which would focus on the maintenance of the main pit to avoid erosion as well as the care of 215 tons of supplies that were used to carry out the explosions.

The plan highlights the maintenance and operation of the 300-megawatt thermal plant, which would remain in operation to provide power for maintenance work. Minera Panamá points out that the plant could remain connected to the national grid to support the current drought when the operation of hydroelectric plants is expected to decrease.

Environmental danger
As already anticipated, in the mine located in the mountains of Donoso in the province of Colón, there are still 120,000 tons of copper concentrate stored, which represents a danger to the environment.

“Prolonged storage can increase the temperature in the concentrate pile, which could create ignition hazards. Additionally, this could result in the release of copper sulfide dust and harmful gases such as hydrogen sulfide. Therefore, it is crucial to transport this concentrate off-site to mitigate these risks,” the company warned.


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Canadian Government will support First Quantum


Mary Ng.

 Posted 11/02/2024

Canada’s Minister of Commerce of Canada, Mary Ng, said that the government will support the Canadian mining company First Quantum after the closure of its project in Panama, following the ruling of unconstitutionality issued by the Supreme Court on November 28, 2023.

According to a Reuters report, the official said that First Quantum is a very important Canadian company and that she maintains constant conversations with company executives.

The copper mine, located in the mountains of the Donoso and Omar Torrijos districts, in the province of Colón, represented 40% of the Canadian mining company's income and more than 42% of its total copper production.

“I will defend Canadian companies where they operate, and First Quantum has operated in Panama for many years,” Ng said.

The official did not detail what support she will provide to the Canadian mining company that is maintaining two arbitration proceedings against Panama for the closure of the mine, which preliminarily would have produced 330,000 tons of copper concentrate in 2023, 50,000 thousand tons below what was projected.

One of the arbitrations carried out by First Quantum would be carried out under the terms agreed in the Commercial Agreement signed between Panama and Canada in May 2010.

 The second would be governed by the rules of the International Court of Arbitration.

Given the closure of the Donoso mine, the Canadian company is exploring the possibility of selling some of its smaller projects, such as those located in Spain. The company is also analyzing increasing the number of shares in circulation to generate more capital.

After learning of the unconstitutionality ruling, Ng mentioned that her government respected the decisions issued by the judges, but said at that time that they would collect more data on the process.

Spokespersons for the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI), indicated that once Jorge Rivera Staff took control of the portfolio, he held meetings with his Canadian counterpart and with the Canadian ambassador, who would have expressed their respect for the sovereignty of Panama.

They assure that after that first meeting, the Canadian government has not made any additional requests or comments about the mining contract.

 Environmental impact
Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of First Quantum, reported on its social networks that cargo movement continues at the Punta Rincón port terminal.

Initially, the arrival of boats with supplies and parts that will be needed during the maintenance and care program that is being carried out was announced. This program is being executed while work begins on the definitive closure of the mining complex located in a concession of 13,000 hectares.

Residents of Donoso have indicated that in recent days a significant number of vessels have entered and left the Punta Rincón port terminal.

But now the company revealed that, in addition to receiving supplies at the port terminal, materials that could generate environmental impact have also been shipped.

Previously, the company had announced that, in addition to the 120,000 tons of copper concentrate that are stored near the port and could generate polluting gases such as hydrogen sulfide, there were also 215 tons of emulsion or supplies used in blasting in the project.

Minera Panamá reported that it has not yet received a response from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries regarding the draft closure plan that was delivered in mid-January.

The MICI  said “Minera Panamá has not shipped contaminating material, all authorizations for the departure or arrival of inputs during the Preservation and Safe Management phase are governed by the respective procedures before the National Customs Authority and the Maritime Authority that are communicated to the Ministry. of Commerce and Industries”


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Next government can’t ignore mining contribution – First Quantum


Posted 15/02/2024

Tristán Pascall executive director of Canadian mining giant First Quantum, revealed that the company would be seeking a sensible solution with the Panamanian government

The next government of Panama can't ignore the contribution of the mining sector to the country's economy, said the top executive.

Although he considers the company's case to be “extremely solid,” referring to the legal dispute after being left without a firm contract, Pascall told the Financial Post that he is seeking another sensible solution with the Panamanian government by mentioning the two arbitration demands it filed. the mining company against the country, after the unconstitutional ruling of the Supreme Court considered that the mining contract violated 25 articles of the Constitution of Panama.

In addition to the arbitrations filed by the Canadian mining company, Korean media have reported that the state company Korea Mine Rehabilitation and Mineral Resources Corp. (Komir) is preparing to file a lawsuit against Panama for $747 million for the closure of the Cobre Panamá mine, in the province of Colón, in which it has a 10% stake.

The Korea Economic Daily newspaper reported that Komir is seeking compensation through an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism known as international arbitration (SDS).

After the stoppage of operations at the Donoso mine, which contributed 40% of the Canadian mining company's income and which until November 2023 generated 330 thousand tons of copper, First Quantum has announced that it is exploring the possibility of selling smaller ones, including a mine in Spain. It is also exploring the possibility of putting new shares into circulation, but this package would only be available to its current shareholders.

Pascall also mentioned that the unrest shown by the population against the mining issue has decreased in recent months, opening a door to discuss the positive impact that the activity has on the Panamanian economy.

Reports from the company and the Government have indicated that the Donoso mine contributed 5% of the country's gross domestic product with the generation of 7 thousand jobs and other contributions to the economy.

Pascall indicated that the company is focused on the maintenance and care plan that must be carried out at the mine while “the definitive plan” of the project is finalized, located in a concession of 13 thousand hectares in the mountains of the districts of Donoso and Omar Torrijos. in the province of Colón.


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