The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama show concern about the consequences of a ruling issued by the Panamanian Supreme Court against a Law that guaranteed a mining concession 20 years ago for the legal security of the country, which can affect a copper mining megaproject of more than 6.3 billion dollars.
José Ramón Icaza, treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), said today that as representatives of private companies understand the consequences of the ruling, not only for the company Minera Panama, which developed the copper mining project , but for all the law contracts existing in the country.
The manager of the employer's association referred to the matter in the framework of the announcement made by Minera Panama, in the sense that today it filed several legal appeals requesting the Panamanian Supreme Court to rethink, interpret and clarify the scope and content of said ruling.
Icaza pointed out that the CCIAP is asking the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) for an "early clarification" of the ruling issued on July 21, 2017, given that "we are talking about the main foreign investment in the history of the country."
The businessperson added that in addition to investment in this project, the concessionaire, subsidiary of First Quantum of Canada, works with 1,400 Panamanian local suppliers to which in 2017 made purchases for about 1,100 million dollars.
"It is important to maintain this economic injection in the country," he stressed, since foreign investment reflected a decrease of 13.2 percent at the end of the second half of 2018.
He stressed that environmental issues related to mining activity are being addressed by this company, and that the adverse sectors that welcome the ruling "are not aware of what these environmental issues are, which go beyond reforestation".
"The message that this type of rulings, issued almost 10 years after filing the lawsuit, about our legal security, hits our image and our competitiveness," said Icaza.
The Chamber of Commerce believes that the CSJ "has the opportunity to present an innovative solution to the situation for the benefit of the country," he said.
Minera Panama today filed a battery of appeals seeking clarification to the nullity of a ruling by the Panamanian Supreme Court against the Law that approved the mining concession.
The package of appeals was filed this Tuesday by the company Minera Panama before the CSJ, through the Panamanian law firm Morgan and Morgan, its legal representative.
In these appeals the Supreme Court is asked to rethink the decision adopted in the constitutionality ruling issued on July 21, 2017, which was notified to the mining company on Monday.
The Environmental Advocacy Center (CIAM), Panamanian environmental association, reported on September 24 that the country's Supreme Court ruled in its favor and declared unconstitutional the "Contract Law 9 of February 26, 1997", which endorsed the mining concession.
That ruling was in response to an Appeal for Unconstitutionality filed by CIAM in 2009.
The Panamanian State and Minera Petaquilla (also of Canadian origin) signed in 1997 a concession contract for the extraction of gold, copper and other minerals in the area of Petaquilla, a hill located in the district of Donoso, in the Caribbean province of Colón.
The concession to Minera Petaquilla, which after several sales changed its name to Minera Panama, expired in February of last year, but the current government decided to extend it for another 20 years, until February 28, 2037, as published in the Official Gazette.
The NGO said that the ruling "implies that the extension granted to Minera Panama is null and void because the accessory follows the fate of the main issue."