Panama is home to great mineral wealth and a long mining history, with gold mining activities far pre-dating the Spanish colonisation of the country. Today, copper and gold mining activities are the major focus of the country’s mining sector, though silver and molybdenum are also being produced. The mining sector is dominated primarily by Canadian company First Quantum, which operates the country’s largest mine with its Cobre Panamá copper-gold operation. The project is regulated by a separate piece of legislation. Since the mine entered into production, mining has contributed around 6% of Panama’s GDP. The sector is believed to have considerable potential for growth. Panama has had a somewhat inconsistent relationship with mining. The Cobre Panamá project received strong opposition from civil society and national debates were conducted on whether or not the country should permit mining to occur. In 2015, a moratorium was imposed on the granting of mining concessions, though this was lifted with a change of government. Today, the balance between communities, environmental protection and mining continues to be a challenge, though the government of the time has expressed an interest in growing the sector.
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