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Panama’s congress backtracks to protect controversial Canadian mining contract

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A invoice banning all new mining actions in Panama will go to a 3rd and remaining vote after one other extraordinary session of debate

ByThe Related Press

November 2, 2023, 8:21 PM

Demonstrators tear down a police barricade as they conflict throughout a protest in opposition to a not too long ago authorised mining contract between the federal government and Canadian mining firm First Quantum, in Panama Metropolis, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. (AP Picture/Arnulfo Franco)

The Related Press

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PANAMA CITY — An indefinite moratorium on new mining actions handed a second vote in Panama’s Nationwide Meeting Thursday. One article was eliminated, nonetheless, that will have revoked a controversial mining contract which had sparked nationwide protests over the previous two weeks.

The invoice had already handed a second debate on Wednesday whereas it nonetheless included an article revoking the federal government’s contract with Minera Panama, an area subsidiary of Canadian mining firm First Quantum.

Lawmakers reversed that call Thursday, sending the invoice again to a second debate and stripping the article particularly associated to the Minera Panama contract.

Some legal professionals welcomed the choice, warning that revoking the contract with a brand new invoice may have left the federal government open to multi-million greenback authorized liabilities. Consultants stated these may very well be prevented if the nation’s Supreme Court docket guidelines the unique contract was unconstitutional in any one in every of eight such {cases} introduced in opposition to the deal up to now.

The moratorium invoice now awaits a 3rd and remaining debate, by which no additional modifications could be made, then the ultimate approval of President Laurentino Cortizo. Technically the Meeting went on recess earlier this week, so Cortizo is anticipated to name for one more day of extraordinary session for the talk. One other invoice additionally awaits debate, which might put the contract to a well-liked referendum.

Cortizo initially gave his remaining approval to the contract on October 20. It permits Minera Panama to proceed working an open pit copper mine within the state of Colon for 20 years, with the potential of the corporate extending it one other 20 years. Environmentalists argue the mine threatens to destroy extra of the dense jungle surrounding it and imperils native consuming water.

Protests continued throughout the nation Thursday, drawing supporters from Indigenous teams and unions throughout the schooling, building and medical sectors.

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