Canadian Mining Journal


COPPER: First Quantum runs into legal snag at Cobre Panama

Cobre Panama is the largest development ever undertaken by a private firm in Panama. (Image: First Quantum)

PANAMA – As Toronto-based First Quantum is heavily committed to the development of the $5.5 billion Cobre Panama copper project, the Panamanian supreme court has ruled that Law 9, which was used to grant the company the mining concessions in 1997, is unconstitutional.

With $5.5 billion at stake, the project can be seriously interrupted by delay and uncertainty.

One of Panama’s major newspapers, La Prensa, reported that the ruling the National Assembly approved the contract, it failed to follow the correct legal procedure. The country’s  minister of commerce and industries the next day told the newspaper that the ruling only affected the enactment of Law 9, not the mining concession contract itself.

First Quantum’s local operating company, Minera Panama, believes the court ruling is not intended to nullify the contract, but it has not had time to thoroughly examine it. Meanwhile, development is well advanced and phased commissioning continues as planned.

More information about Cobre Panama is posted at

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