The President of Panama, Laurentino Cortizothis Thursday ordered the cessation of operations in the country of the Canadian copper giant First Quantum Mineralswhich operates the largest mine in Central America in the Panamanian Caribbean.
“I have decided […] instruct the Secretary of Commerce to implement a safe conservation and management plan, that is, [solo] care and maintenance at the Cobre Panama project,” Cortizo said in a televised report.
This decision by the President, supported by his Council of Ministers, implies the cessation of activities in the country from a company that accounts for 75% of exports and 4% of Panama’s GDP.
Cortizo confirmed that Minera Panamá, the subsidiary of First Quantum, has “failed to meet commitments” to sign a new concession contract by Wednesday that would increase the royalty amount to $375 million per year, 10 times more than in the previous agreement .
That is unacceptable for me as president, neither for the government nor for the Panamanian people,” said the social-democratic president.
the Canadian company has invested more than $10,000 million in Panama in earthworks, construction of buildings to house its 7,200 employees, purchase of heavy machinery, a power station, a deep-draught merchant port, access roads, reforestation and community assistance programs.
Discovered in 1968, the mine is located on the Caribbean coast, 240 km by road from the capital, and since February 2019 produces about 300,000 tons of copper concentrate per year, which is exported from Puerto Punta Rincón, adjacent to the deposit. .
The company’s manager in Panama, British Keith Green, did not immediately respond to the president’s announcement.
Last week, Green told AFP his company was “intending to reach an agreement” with the Panamanian government, but admitted that “negotiations are a bit stalled”.