Panama completes process of mining concession cancellations

Cobre Panama mine began producing and shipping copper concentrates in June 2019. (Image courtesy of Cobre Panama.)

Panama said on Thursday that it has completed the process of cancelling and annulling all metal mining concessions.

In November 2023, the Central American nation enacted Law 407, a mining moratorium in response to protests that erupted following the signing of a new contract between the government and the local unit of First Quantum Minerals, Minera Panamá.

“Compliance with Law 407 that established the mining moratorium for metallic materials has been fully [completed]. The [commerce and industries ministry] complied with its implementation,” minister Jorge Rivera Staff told newspaper La Prensa.

The minister noted that some companies are preparing legal actions against the annulment of their concessions.

In March, the ministry reported to the national assembly that 82 applications for metallic minerals exploration had been rejected to comply with the law, as reported by La Prensa.

In December, the ministry rejected Orla Mining’s request to extend the three concessions for its Cerro Quema gold and silver project and declared the cancellation retroactive. Consequently, the Canadian company notified the government in early April of its intention to initiate arbitration.

The minister said he is aware of arbitration considerations communicated by First Quantum regarding the closure of Cobre Panamá.

Four intentions are tied to investment, while one relates to trade, bringing the potential international mining lawsuits against Panama to six.

Staff also responded to comments from First Quantum’s CEO, Tristan Pascall, who said the company expects to receive, after the elections on May 5, 2024, the permit to export the 121,000 tonnes of copper concentrate stored at the mine.

“This is part of a media campaign that the company is conducting regarding the concentrate, but we are carrying out technical analyses on the concentrate,” said Staff.