Panama is prepared to defend itself if a Canadian mining company resorts to arbitration

The government of Panama assured on Sunday that it was ready to “defend” the country’s interests after Canadian mining group FQM informed it that it would resort to international arbitration if the contract between them was declared unconstitutional.

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“Panama reiterates that it has complied with all its obligations under international law and Panamanian law and is ready to defend national interests,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement published on the social network x.

According to the ministry, the Canadian group First Quantum Minerals (FQM) and its subsidiaries have submitted “two letters of intent to submit requests for arbitration” to the government under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Panama and Canada, which came into force since 2013.

This statement comes at a time when the Supreme Court of Panama has been in “permanent session” since Friday to decide on allegations of “unconstitutionality” of the treaty, raised in particular by environmentalists.

On October 20, the Panamanian Congress approved this contract, which allows FQM to operate the largest copper mine in Central America in the country’s Caribbean zone for 40 years.

Opponents challenging the legality of that treaty and deploring its potential environmental impact have since multiplied demonstrations and roadblocks. According to trade organizations, these have led to shortages of basic products and losses of more than $1.7 billion.

Panama is prepared to defend itself if a Canadian mining company resorts to arbitration

AFP

The contract signed in August between the government and FQM replaced the original concession agreement, which was declared unconstitutional in 2017 because it was not concluded following a public tender or public consultation.

FQM emphasizes that the mine creates around 50,000 jobs, contributes 5% to Panama’s GDP and that the contract provides for annual contributions to the state of at least $375 million, ten times more than the previous agreement. 1997.


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