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Panamanian government authorities and local mining chamber Camipa are reviewing the possibility of reviving the Cerro Colorado copper project, one of the world's largest undeveloped copper deposits, Camipa director Gustavo Pinilla told BNamericas.
"We are trying to evaluate this project quickly in order to put it into operations as soon as possible taking advantage of the metal's current price," the official said.
Cerro Colorado is a porphyry-type deposit with 1.4Bt of mineral reserves with an average grade of 0.78% copper. According to economic feasibility studies, the deposit could be developed over a period of 70 years and possibly up to 140 years.
Cerro Colorado could generate profits of nearly US$300mn/y, according to information from the Organization of Ibero-American States.
A working commission created by Panama's government and Camipa is evaluating the proposal made by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to reform the country's mining code.
The code's preliminary study did not give any recommendation for non-metallic mining even though 108 of the 115 mining concessions currently in force in Panama are related to non-metallic projects.
"Now we are evaluating the possibility of introducing to the IDB proposal the issue of non-metallic minerals that was previously eliminated," Pinilla said.
The outlook for the Panamanian mining sector is interesting, according to Pinilla. "This government has really shown interest in supporting the mining industry and the answer has been that many companies have requested exploration concessions," he said.
Camipa and government representatives are currently working on three specific issues to benefit the sector, he added.
The first is to automate and speed up the proceedings for the processing of mining concessions, the second is to review the reform bill of mining resources and the third is to carry out a promotion plan for the sector.
"We are identifying the world's largest mining forums so that the government can promote the mining sector," the official added.
Panama hosts some large gold projects, such as Canada-based RNC Gold's (TSX: RNC) Cerro Quema, the Faja de Oro project owned by Colorado-based Calais Resources (OTC BB: CAAUF) and the Petaquilla gold-copper deposit, one of the region's largest.