PANAMA CITY — Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Ltd. introduced Friday it has requested arbitration proceedings to combat a Panamanian determination to halt a serious open-pit copper mine concession in Panama or get hold of damages.
First Quantum mentioned one arbitration was requested beneath the Canada-Panama Free Commerce Settlement. It has additionally began proceedings earlier than the Worldwide Court docket of Arbitration, which might meet in Miami, Florida, the corporate mentioned in a press release.
In a historic ruling on Tuesday, Panama’s Supreme Court docket declared that laws granting the mine a 20-year concession was unconstitutional. That call was celebrated by 1000’s of Panamanians activists who had argued the mission would harm a forested coastal space and threaten water provides.
First Quantum mentioned it requested arbitration from the worldwide panel on Wednesday and that it had initiated proceedings beneath the free commerce settlement even earlier than the courtroom ruling. It didn’t say what treatment or damages it was in search of, however did say it was open to talks.
First Quantum’s subsidiary, Cobre Panama, “reiterates that transparency and compliance with the legislation has all the time been basic for the event of its operations and stays open to constructive dialogue with the intention to attain consensus,” the corporate mentioned.
The mine, which might be closed by the courtroom ruling, has been an necessary financial engine for the nation for the reason that mine started large-scale manufacturing in 2019.
However strikes this 12 months to grant the corporate the 20-year concession triggered large protests that paralyzed the Central American nation for over a month, mobilizing a broad swath of society, together with Indigenous communities, who mentioned the mine was destroying key ecosystems.
The corporate has mentioned the mine generates 40,000 jobs, together with 7,000 direct jobs, and that it contributes the equal of 5% of Panama’s GDP.
The agency mentioned it could take time to correctly shut the mine.
“The Court docket’s determination doesn’t take note of a deliberate and managed closure situation, wherein key environmental measures are required to be applied to take care of the environmental security of the location throughout this course of,” together with water therapy and the storage of mine tailings.
Panama two weeks in the past acquired an preliminary cost of $567 million from First Quantum beneath the brand new contract that was finalized in October. As a result of authorized dispute, the quantity went on to a restricted account.
The contract additionally stipulated that Panama would obtain a minimum of $375 million yearly from the mining firm, an quantity that critics thought of meager.
Cobre Panama revealed a scathing assertion on Wednesday saying the Supreme Court docket determination will probably have a adverse financial influence and warned that lack of upkeep of drainage techniques within the mines might have “catastrophic penalties.”
The transfer additionally “places in danger” all of Panama’s different enterprise contracts, the corporate mentioned.
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