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In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the environmentalists, thus forcing the Panamanian state to negotiate a new contract with First Quantum Minerals.
On Monday, the Environmental Advocacy Center (CIAM) of Panama filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) against the government's approval of a contract with the Canadian First Quantum Minerals (FQM) for the exploitation for 20 renewable years of the largest open pit copper mine in Central America.
In 2009, CIAM filed an appeal for unconstitutionality against the 1997 Contract Act that endorsed the concession for the exploitation of the copper mine. In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the environmentalists, thus forcing the Panamanian state to negotiate a new contract.
The appeal for "protection of constitutional guarantees was presented against Cabinet Resolution 54 that approves the mining contract with Minera Panama and orders it to be presented to the National Assembly for debate," CIAM lawyer Gabriella Dutari explained.
"We filed this amparo because we believe that there are violations of fundamental constitutional rights such as the rights to citizen participation, due process, a healthy environment, and sustainable development," she argued.
The tweet reads, "This paradise called Panama deserves more than extractivism. If the legislators retain some of their humanity, they must reject the contract."
CIAM also asks the Court to provisionally suspend the order of the administration of President Laurentino Cortizo according to which the contract must be debated and approved by Parliament for the contract to enter into force while the protection of constitutional guarantees is resolved.
Previously, the Cortizo administration submitted the contract to non-binding public consultation, which was negotiated for more than a year, while environmental activists highlighted that its contents hurt the interests of the country.
In June 2019, the Cobre Panamá mine began to export ore with an investment of around US$10 billion and hiring some 5,279 direct workers and close to 40,000 indirect workers.
Its operation represents 50 percent of First Quantum's global production and 3.5 percent of Panama's gross domestic product (GDP), according to data from Deutsche Bank.