College of Sociology and Social Sciences: The mine contract

the ming
Part of the Cobre Panamá operation. Photo by the Presidencia.

The contract with Minera Panama / First Quantum:
a new colonial enclave in the 21st century

by the College of Sociology and Social Sciences of Panama

Twenty-three years after the reversion of the Panama Canal, today the Panamanian government, betraying the generational struggle that ended the colonial enclave of the old Canal Zone on December 31, 1999, intends to sign a contract with Minera Panama and its affiliates, which is the same and worse. This government, without any counterweight, accepts a contract that’s harmful to the Panamanian sovereignty over the national territory.

This contract, in all of its parts, reveals the cession of the sovereign rights of the Panamanian state to ensure the preservation of its habitats, its natural resources and the conservation of its environment. It also gives up the sustainable development of vulnerable areas such as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that runs through the District of Donoso, which, like the Omar Torrijos Special District, has fragile soils and vulnerable forests that will be significantly affected.

Through a mediated consultation through the ÁGORA platform, only two proposals were considered. The rest of the proposals were unavailable to be part of the citizen consultation. We were told that it was not considered binding, but was a mere procedure. The contract is harmful in part and in whole because it gives away rights and contains extremely unconstitutional defects:

  • The draft contract stems from a contract declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Justice.
  • The draft concession contract was not the subject of a call for tenders public as established by the Tax Code.
  • There would be a significant high impact from the practice of mining in the open, on a protected area.
  • The draft contract will be for 20 years, extendable for to equal periods.
  • The concession includes 17,780.38 hectares of use for additional easements (tailings area, highway to the port, mineral pipeline and electric transmission line ) granted along with the 12,955 hectares of the main concession if it is required.
  • Moreover, the company will be allowed to buy additional land or expropriate it if the owners do not agree to its sale.
  • The company will manage the port and charge third parties for its use.
  • The company will be exempt from paying customs taxes for the purchase of fuel, machinery, equipment, spare parts, raw materials, vehicles, ships, aircraft, devices, lubricants and others.
  • Timid oversight is established for the supervision, monitoring and control of the activities and operation of the mine, by the responsible institutions. Already the Minister of Environment has complained that they are not allowed to enter to supervise and attend to the more than “200 breaches reported.”
  • It establishes the use of the funds acquired by the concession of part of the State Panamanian, as if it were a loan to a financial institution that You have to explain it.
  • Tax credits will be granted for the construction of infrastructures that will be deducted from the company’s income taxes.
  • The company will be allowed to extract other materials (gold, molybdenum and others) through an impractical procedure, since once the material is extracted it will not return to the mine to wait for authorization to remove it. The subsidiary will be allowed to explore for and exploit materials other than the copper subject to concession.

These are some of the considerations that the College of Sociology and Social Sciences of Panama (CoSCieSPa), denounces as harmful to Panamanian sovereignty, by which the current government surrenders to Minera Panamá, SA and its affiliates; without fully guaranteeing the best interests of the country, of sites affected by opencast copper mining and other materials, whose forecast of environmental recovery will be “80 to 100 years,” as noted by Stanley Heckadon.

It is urgent to comply with the declaration of unconstitutionality made by the Supreme Court, to safeguard the dignity of the Panamanian State and bequeath to future generation a nation with values and principles forged by the struggles for the freedom and self-determination of our people; as well as for the preservation of our natural resources.

The National Assembly of Deputies has only one way: reject the mining contract. Let’s avoid the sale of Panamanian territory to new colonizing companies. We recommend that the executive branch take control of the mining area, to prevent further damage to Panamanian sovereignty.


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