Greg Mills is director of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation and has worked in Panama.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has been among those playing a supporting role in Panama’s rejection of Canadian copper mining giant First Quantum. In his latest environmental cause, the actor is offering support for the campaign against the continued operation of First Quantum’s mine.
Mr. DiCaprio got what he wanted. Last Tuesday, the Panamanian Supreme Court ruled that a contract enabling First Quantum to extend its operations in the Central American country was unconstitutional, and authorized a process to shut down the US$10-billion mine.
But Mr. DiCaprio is placing himself on the wrong side of history, and not for the first time – nor is he the only one. This is not only because the mine had put Panama squarely at the centre of the global energy transition, in which copper is a critical component.
This fiasco now most likely will see the government of Panama face lawsuits north of US$60-billion to account for lost income by the company and its suppliers and investors. On Monday, Reuters reported that Panama was forecasting a decline in 2024 economic growth of up to four percentage points.
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