First Quantum Minerals Ltd. says it will likely soon suspend production at its giant copper mine in Panama in the face of continuing protests, as its licence to operate hangs on an impending legal decision in the country.
Vancouver-based First Quantum has been in crisis mode since last month after Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo announced that a referendum will be held on whether to repeal the law that legalized its latest mining contract.
The government only last month signed a new 20-year contract on First Quantum’s Cobre Panama mine into law. But as the contract was making its way through the legislature, thousands of environmentalists, Indigenous groups and labour activists took to the streets to protest against the Canadian miner.
Soon after the referendum was called, Panama’s government said it would instead let the country’s Supreme Court decide on the constitutionality of the recently negotiated mine contract. On Friday, the court will hear the matter, and will remain in session until there is a resolution.
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