Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

Hi there! I'm Kimberly Yow, a passionate journalist with a deep love for alternative rock. Combining my two passions, I've found my dream job. Join me on this exciting journey as I explore the world of journalism and rock music.

Protests may force controversial Panama mining operation to close

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on google
Google+
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

The Canadian mining company whose contract with Panama’s government has triggered weeks of protests said Monday that it has reduced operations and soon may have to suspend them due to a blockade of its mine’s power plant.

Minera Panama, the local subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, said in a statement that small boats had blocked its port in Colon province, preventing supplies from reaching the copper mine.

“If the illegal actions continue impeding the necessary supplies to operate the power plant, the company will reduce the remaining processing train this week and will temporarily suspend production,” the statement said.

FLORIDA-BOUND AIRLINER RETURNS TO PANAMA AFTER BOMB THREAT

Panama has been roiled by weeks of massive street protests and highway blockades as citizens worried about the impact on the environment pressure the government to revoke the contract. The protesters, a broad coalition of Panamanians, fear the mine’s impact on nature and especially on the water supply.

The mine employs thousands and accounts for 3% of Panama’s gross domestic product.

In March, Panama’s legislature reached an agreement with First Quantum allowing Minera Panama to continue operating a huge open-pit copper mine in central Panama for at least 20 more years. The mine was temporarily closed last year when talks between the government and First Quantum broke down over payments the government wanted.

DARIEN JUNGLE, A TREACHEROUS ROUTE FOR MIGRANTS, BECOMES MORE ACCESSIBLE AS PANAMA SEES UPTICK IN ARRIVALS

The contract, given final approval Oct. 20, allows the subsidiary to continue operating the copper mine in a biodiverse jungle west of the capital for the next 20 years, with the possibility of extending for a further 20 years if the mine remains productive.

Since protests began, the government nearly passed legislation that would have revoked the contract, but it backtracked in a late evening debate in the National Assembly on Nov. 2.

Protesters hope Panama’s courts will declare the contract unconstitutional.

More to explorer