First Quantum warns of arbitration as Panama weighs copper contract – by Valentine Hilaire and Elida Moreno (Reuters – November 26, 2023)

Nov 26 (Reuters) – Canada’s First Quantum intends to start arbitration against Panama, the Central American nation’s trade ministry and the company said on Sunday, as Panama’s top court considers annulling a copper contract that opponents call unfair.

On Oct. 20, Panama’s government approved a contract for First Quantum to operate the copper Cobre Panama mine. It included a 20-year mining right with an option to extend for another 20 years. In return the miner agreed to pay Panama $375 million a year.

Opponents claim the contract favors the miner too much as the mine represents about 5% of the country’s GDP and some 1% of global copper output. Protesters have demonstrated over the mine’s environmental and economic impacts and allege corrupt practices in its approval.

A spokesperson for First Quantum confirmed to Reuters the company sent one notification of intent to start arbitration proceedings.

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