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Panama Joins IGF as 72nd Member, Aims to Improve Social Development Through Sustainable Mining

Panama Joins IGF as 72nd Member, Aims to Improve Social Development Through Sustainable Mining

The Government of Panama expressed its commitment to responsible governance of the mining sector by joining the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF). The IGF is a voluntary partnership that welcomes member states of the United Nations.

“We are pleased to welcome Panama as the IGF’s 72nd member state,” IGF Director Greg Radford said in a statement. “We are delighted with IGF’s continued expansion into the Americas and look forward to Panama’s contribution to our global dialogue about leveraging mining for poverty reduction.”

Panama has recently entered large-scale mining and will utilize their membership to learn from the experience of other mining jurisdictions before granting new concessions.

“The National Directorate of Mineral Resources, through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Panama, is proud to be a member of the IGF. Our country is taking its first steps in the large-scale mining industry and we believe it is the right moment to show our commitment with the development of a sustainable mining sector,” said Viceminister of Internal Commerce and Industries Eduardo Palacios.

“We fully trust that, as members of this forum, we will acquire new knowledge and relevant information. We look forward to sharing, together with this group of nations from all over the world, the experiences and lessons learned, which will undoubtedly strengthen our institution. Panama will benefit from learning about the responsible development of the mining industry,” explained Viceminister Palacios.

In 2018, the mining sector represented 1.8 per cent of Panama’s gross domestic product (GDP), with annual production consisting of 2.4 million cubic metres of quarry rock and 8 million cubic metres of sand.

The Cobre Panama mining project began June 14, 2019, and is estimated to produce about 2 million tonnes of copper concentrate per year, representing 3 per cent of the country’s GDP and its main export.

Mining has increased employment rates in Panama, but long-term challenges remain. While the Cobre Panama project currently employs about 13,200 people, that number is expected to decrease to approximately 4,000 once construction of the mine is complete. This will impact low- to mid-skilled workers the hardest, as the remaining staff will consist primarily of operations team members.

The Government of Panama aims to improve employment and social development in regions with little to no economic activity by developing the mining sector further. Panama will leverage sustainable mining to improve poverty reduction and access to education and healthcare in communities across the country.

Panama seeks to provide capacity-building resources and skills to the entities responsible for supervising mining projects and their compliance with environmental and safety regulations to ensure the continued protection of the region’s biodiversity.

The government also aims to strengthen legal certainties to investors and to handle the payment of royalties transparently.

The Government of Panama has undertaken reforms in the past five years to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the sector, prepare the public institutions involved to deal effectively with the development of the mining industry and ensure the country benefits from the mining sector.

The IGF supports more than 70 nations committed to leveraging mining for sustainable development to ensure that negative impacts are limited and financial benefits are shared. It is devoted to optimizing the benefits of mining to achieve poverty reduction, inclusive growth, social development and environmental stewardship. The International Institute for Sustainable Development has served as Secretariat for the IGF since October 2015. Core funding is provided by the Government of Canada.

For more information please contact Stacy Corneau, Media and Communications Officer, IISD, at scorneau@iisd.ca or 613-238-2296 ext 103.