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A business chamber in Panama asked today the Supreme Court to hear the appeal for clarification of a ruling against the law that gave life to a mining concession more than 20 years ago, and that may affect a copper project of 6,300 million dollars soon to start operations.
It involves the Panama Copper project, owned by the Canadian company First Quantum, "the largest foreign investment in the history of the country of 6,300 million dollars," recalled this Sunday the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP).
The Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) determined last September in a ruling that the "Contract Law 9 of February 26, 1997" endorsing the mining concession it’s unconstitutional, contract that has been sold several times over the years, and now belongs to the company Minera Panamá, subsidiary of First Quantum.
This ruling responded to a resource presented almost a decade ago by the Center for Environmental Advocacy (CIAM), a reputed Panamanian environmental association that has said that it cancels the concession to First Quantum.
But the Canadian firm said it believes that the judicial decision "does not affect" its project, although last October it presented a pack of legal remedies, including an appeal for clarification of the ruling.
CCIAP highlighted on Sunday the magnitude of the mining project in figures, saying that "it will contribute 4% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with approximately 2,000 million in exports from its operational phase", which is scheduled to begin in the first months of 2019. He also pointed out that the project "shows an advance of 83%, generating 13,000 employed people, 30 million dollars in salaries; an investment of more than 1,100 million dollars in purchases to 1,400 local suppliers, and 120 million dollars annually in worker-patronal quotas to the Social Security Fund ".
Minera Panamá "has built an international port, a 300MW power plant, a mineral processing plant and the mine itself," added CCIAP, bringing together more than 1,800 companies from 15 economic sectors in Panama.
"All of this positive impact on the national economy is uncertain, since it's pending on the clarification from the Supreme Court of Justice on the ruling related to the Petaquilla Law Contract, although Minera Panama is a different company," he warned.
CCIAP "hopes that, in order to guarantee the legal security enshrined in the laws of the country, the Supreme Court of Justice will attend to the clarification requested."
"It is known that the legal security that prevails in the country depends on our capacity to compete for employment-generating investments, which is why we must strengthen and consolidate it, instead of subjecting it to dangerous risks." The case of Minera Panamá and its Panama Copper project is a timely example of both aspects," he argued.