Panama prepares for arbitration amid mine closure

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By LatAm Reports Editor

The Government is making progress in a process of environmental audits and technical processes for the closure of the mine; environmental lawyer makes some points.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) reported actions aimed at ensuring the orderly closure of the Cobre Panama mine, while coordinating the defense of the State against the arbitration demands announced by the companies Minera Panama, S. A., a subsidiary of Canadian First Quantum Minerals, following the Supreme Court’s ruling that ended the contract to operate the mining project.

MICI announced that it coordinates the States defence in conjunction with the Office of Investment Arbitration of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

On November 29, the company Minera Panama S.A. initiated arbitration before the International Court of Arbitration to protect its rights under the concession agreement 2023, and

On December 5, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) sent the company Minera Panamá S.A. the order to complete the operations of extraction, processing, profits, transport, export and marketing, as well as mining activities in general.

With the note No. 1052-2023, the Panamanian State formally initiated the transition process for the orderly and safe closure of the Copper Panama mining project, as established by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ).

Subsequently, Trade Minister Jorge Rivera Staff convened a first inter-agency meeting to assess the steps to be taken for the final and orderly closure of the mine.

The road map proposal, which will include the formation of the technical group for the preparation of the final closure plan, will be presented in the coming days to the country.

The Government is also moving forward with a process of environmental audits and technical processes, through independent companies, with a view to having an updated scenario on the reality of the project.

The technical group will be composed of suitable national and international professionals, representative of various sectors with extensive professional experience in various branches in addition to having the support of communication spaces, collaboration, monitoring and citizen consultations.

The specialists will work hand in hand with the National Government, giving an accompaniment, scientific technical throughout the process, guaranteeing and monitoring the total closure of Copper Panama, ensuring the preservation, chemical and environmental stability of the area, in order to avoid all the risks associated with the imminent forced closure of the operations of a mine of magnitude.

Faced with this, the lawyer and environmentalist, Harley Mitchell, announced that he would ask to observe the official documents on which the expected statement is based.

“An audit is for existing activities, but mineral extraction is prohibited. So the closure is practically a new activity so it would be required is new EIA,” warned the specialist.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Panamerica