El Salvador Appeals for Truckers’ Corridor Amid Protests at Cobre Panama Mine

El Salvador Appeals for Truckers’ Corridor Amid Protests at Cobre Panama Mine

The Salvadoran government, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco, has called for a humanitarian corridor for truckers stranded amidst ongoing protests in Panama against First Quantum Minerals’ Cobre Panama mine.

Protests Escalate in Panama

Protests, which began in mid-October, have escalated recently, with reports of activists attacking mine workers. The unrest has disrupted crucial supplies to the mine, leading First Quantum to suspend operations. The blockades have broadly impacted various sectors, including farming, education, emergency services, and numerous businesses, due to immobilized staff and supplies.

Concerns Over Mining Concession

Protesters oppose the recent approval of the Cobre Panama mining concession, alleging the process lacked public consultation and transparency. They express apprehensions about potential environmental impacts from the mining operations. The protestors demand the revocation of Law 406, which grants First Quantum a 20-year mining right with an option to extend. This law also assures the Panamanian government a minimum annual income of $375 million.

Supreme Court Deliberations

The Supreme Court of Panama is deliberating on several constitutional challenges to the mining contract. A ruling against the mine could significantly impact both First Quantum and Panama’s economy. Cobre Panama contributes about 5% to Panama’s GDP and accounts for 75% of its goods exports, supporting approximately 40,000 jobs.

Cobre Panama’s Role in Global Copper Market

Cobre Panama, operational since 2019, is First Quantum’s largest revenue generator and contributes around 1.5% to global copper production. The facility, at full capacity, processes 85 million tonnes of ore annually, producing over 300,000 tonnes of copper, alongside gold, silver, and molybdenum. The complex comprises open pit mines, a processing plant, power stations, and a port.

Diplomatic Efforts for Resolution

El Salvador’s appeal for a humanitarian corridor underlines the urgency for a resolution. The situation not only affects local communities and the Panamanian economy but also has broader implications for regional trade and cooperation. icon

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