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Panama suspends debate for First Quantum's new mining contract

Kitco News

PANAMA CITY, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Panama's National Assembly decided on Thursday to suspend the debate for a new contract with Minera Panama, the local subsidiary of Canadian miner First Quantum , as lawmakers seek a government revision of the current proposal.

The assembly's trade commission decided to suspend discussions on the contract and recommended its withdrawal for a review.

Earlier this month, some members of Panama's congress visited First Quantum's copper mine to resolve doubts over the contract expressed across the Central American country as it debates the new changes.

The contract concerns First Quantum's flagship operation, Cobre Panama, a huge open-pit copper mine in the Panama jungle which accounts for nearly half of its earnings, as well as some 4% of Panama's gross domestic product.

The contract, which would guarantee the Central American government an annual income of $375 million, has sparked controversy in Panama with critics objecting to the mine's environmental impacts and permits to expand its operations.

A spokesperson for Panama's trade ministry told Reuters it hoped to speak with company representatives in coming days "in permanent session" to make the necessary changes.

Minera Panama did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Additional reporting by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Sarah Morland)

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