Minera Panama workers urge dialogue with the Executive

Minera Panama workers urge dialogue with the Executive
Minera Panama workers urge dialogue with the Executive

Panama City, Jul 9 (Prensa Latina) Representatives of the General Union of Workers of Panama (UGT) today urged the government to establish a dialogue table on working conditions at the Donoso copper mine (Colón).

In a press conference, the secretary general of that group, Aniano Pinzón, stated that, since the Supreme Court ruling, which declared unconstitutional the decree signed with the State by the subsidiary of the Canadian multinational First Quantum and ordered a closure plan, some 1,600 workers remain unemployed.

Pinzón said he demanded that the new Executive, headed by José Raúl Mulino since July 1, adopt the necessary measures, including investment and job creation programs, to get them out of the poverty in which they have been left.

The UGT leader clarified that they are not seeking to ignore the popular will, expressed in the streets last October and November, in rejection of open-pit metal mining, nor are they asking for a new mining contract, only to end the uncertainty they have been in for nine months.

On July 4, the Panama Mining Chamber (Camipa) also called on the Executive to discuss possible solutions to this dispute.

The head of Camipa, Roderick Gutiérrez, also indicated that to date, seven arbitration proceedings have been filed, requested by both suppliers and investors, which in total represent an amount of 57 billion dollars.

He also commented on the foreign company that the concept of “open to close” pointed out by Mulino does not exist in mining.

“What exists is the term ‘closure plan’ which must be ready from the start of the mining project, to be applied as the activities are completed,” he added.

The foreign company began an arbitration process against Panama, at the International Court of Arbitration in Miami, Florida, requesting 20 billion dollars for the closure of the largest open-pit copper mine in Central America.

For his part, the new Isthmus leader has mentioned an “open to close” approach to the mine; and last May, he told local media that he would not agree to talk about the mine with these arbitrations active.

In his most recent speech after taking office on July 1, Mulino announced that he will order a strict environmental audit of the mine, with the best international experts so that the country knows the truth about the state of the site, its surroundings, rivers, fauna and flora and the possible dangers that its current situation represents to the environment, whether it is open or closed.

Data from the company show that before the closure, copper exports represented almost 5.0 percent of Panama’s Gross Domestic Product and 75 percent of all sales in the Central American country.

Experts are warning of the environmental danger posed by the more than 130,000 tons of copper stored at Minera Panamá, whose data on the contamination they represent had not been revealed by the outgoing government.

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