Panama’s cabinet on Tuesday approved a modified version of the government’s contract with a local subsidiary of Canadian miner First Quantum, after extended talks over regulations concerning the open-pit copper mine the firm operates.
A government statement said the modifications include stipulations that the subsidiary, Minera Panama, can only explore, extract and exploit copper and its derivatives in the concession area in the Donoso and Omar Torrijos districts.
It removed a clause saying the state would consider granting exploring rights for gold, silver and molybdenum, as well as a clause which would have allowed Minera Panama to request airspace restrictions.
The modified contract also includes a clause “reaffirming that nothing in the contract restricts nor limits the sovereignty of the Republic of Panama over its territory,” the government said.
A congressional committee had called for modifications on an earlier version of the contract and hundreds gathered near Panama’s government buildings in recent weeks to protest it, demanding more environmental protections and fewer expansion permits.
The new version of the contract must now make its way back to Panama’s unicameral congress after receiving approval from the comptroller.
The copper mine, Cobre Panama, is First Quantum’s flagship operation, accounting for nearly half of its earnings. It also accounts for about 4% of Panama’s gross domestic product