Inmet Mining Corp. says Korea Panama Mining Corp. has decided to exercise its option to take a 20-per-cent interest in Cobre Panama copper mine, leaving Inmet with an 80-per-cent stake in the development-stage project.
Korea Panama Mining, a joint venture between LS-Nikko Copper Inc. and Korean Resources Corp., will invest about $155-million in the project, its share of historical development costs. After closing, it has agreed to fund its 20 per cent of development costs and will gain the rights to buy 20 per cent of the mine's concentrates production.
Questions were raised early in 2011 about the future of the Cobre Panama project, when the Toronto miner Lundin Mining Corp. walked away from its planned merger with Inmet.
The project has since received government approval for an environmental and social impact assessment required for the building of a mine, port facility and coal-fired power plant.
However, environmental groups continue to oppose the project, contending it will destroy 5,700 hectares of forest and affect local wildlife, including a large number of protected animal species.
The Panamanian Environmental Advocacy Centre has said it believes the agreement between Inmet and Korea Panama Mining violates foreign ownership rules under the Panamanian constitution. It has also challenged the government's ability to adequately conduct environmental assessments.