Panama: Amendments to Mining Code Approved

The Panamanian National Assembly approved bill number 277 which amends the Mineral Resources Code.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The proposal, which was approved in first and second debate, was adopted with 42 votes in favor, 15 against and no abstentions and it adjusts fees and royalties to be paid for mineral concessions, which will increase to 5%.

Of that percentage, the state will allocate 2% for construction of infrastructure and social development programs in communities and regions close to the mining concessions.

1% is transferred directly to the Social Security Fund (CSS) to strengthen the financing of risk for disability, old age and death and the other 2% will go to the national treasury.

The bill, widely discussed in Parliament, contains provisions on corporate social responsibility for mining companies in order for them to design, develop and implement policies, plans, programs and projects for the achievement of social objectives and improving the population´s quality of life.

These programs should focus also on prevention and remedying of environmental damage in the regions, sub regions or zones of the company´s influence.

The document also provides for penalties to those who purchase and transport metallic and nonmetallic minerals from illegal exploitation, with fines not less than $ 1.000 Dollars nor more than 10.000 Dollars as well as confiscation of the extracted minerals.

The Vice Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, said the approved proposal does not include the exploitation of the copper deposits in Cerro Colorado, province of Chiriqui, or other mineral reserves in indigenous areas.

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The bill also deals with the distribution of royalties, the formation of a Mining Council, and the creation of environmental insurance.

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The Commerce Commission of the National Assembly has begun discussing Bill No.394, which restores repealed articles in the Mineral Resources Code.

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