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Panama’s chief requires referendum on mining concession, in search of to calm protests over the deal

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Protests in Panama have prolonged right into a second week over a long-term copper mining concession for a Canadian firm


October 30, 2023, 8:36 PM

A person welds a sliding gate shut on a store outdoors the Nationwide Meeting because the instructor´s Union protests towards a lately accredited mining contract between the federal government and Canadian mining firm First Quantum, in Panama Metropolis, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo introduced a referendum on Dec. 17, to outline the way forward for the contract. (AP Photograph/Arnulfo Franco)

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PANAMA CITY — Protests prolonged right into a second week Monday over a long-term copper mining concession for a Canadian firm, as Panama’s authorities sought to calm anger by promising to let Panamanians determine in a referendum whether or not to scrap the deal.

A broad cross-section of society has joined in demonstrations throughout the nation for greater than every week demanding the federal government rescind the contract with a neighborhood subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals. Critics say the concession places Panama’s environment and water provide in danger.

President Laurentino Cortizo’s administration proposed Monday to ship congress a invoice that may schedule a referendum in December. However the nation’s high electoral authority mentioned such a vote could not be held earlier than subsequent Might’s presidential election.

Inside Minister Roger Tejado, who submitted the proposed laws, referred to as on electoral authorities to “perform your historic position.”

The contract has actual financial implications for the nation. Panama Mining, the native subsidiary, employs greater than 9,000 folks, and the corporate says its operations accounted for 4.8% of Panama’s gross home product in 2021.

Cortizo’s administration says the brand new contract ensures a minimal annual fee of $375 million to Panama, 10 occasions greater than underneath the earlier contract.

The brand new contract extends Panama Mining’s concession over 32,000 acres (12,955 hectares) for 20 years, with the corporate having an possibility to increase it for one more 20 years.

The dimensions and scope of the deal have raised nationalist anger in addition to environmentalist objections.

Critics say that at a time when drought has pressured reductions in Panama Canal site visitors, giving the corporate management over the water it makes use of is a mistake. The corporate says it makes use of solely rainwater that it collects.

“We’re nearly out of water,” protester Omayra Avendaño, an actual property dealer, mentioned throughout a march. “All the cash on the planet won’t be able to make up for the shortage of water, which is already vital.”

First Quantum Minerals has not commented for the reason that protests started apart from issuing a short assertion condemning protesters who arrived by boat at a port the corporate makes use of.

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