Panama’s president Laurentino Cortizo has granted final approval for a law that authorises a new long-term contract for the Cobre Panama mine, following long-standing negotiations.

The government has officially published the approval in the government’s gazette, which indicates the final step for the contract, reported Reuters.

The approval of the bill, with most of the lawmakers in Panama’s Congress in its favour, is expected to provide the government with additional revenue from the project.

The contract covers operations of a local subsidiary of Canadian mining and metals company First Quantum Minerals, which paid $61m in royalties in 2021.

Under the terms of the new contract, Panama’s government is expected to receive a minimum of $375m in annual income and will be effective for 20 years, with an option to renew.

In March this year, the Panama government and the Canadian miner initially agreed on a renewed contract covering the Cobre Panama project.

However, few legislators demanded changes to some of the clauses in the contract.

The earlier version of the contract was then modified to omit certain clauses such as provisions for airspace restrictions, and to extend its remit beyond copper to include gold and silver.

The discussions related to the contract led to the rise of local protests over the mine’s environmental and economic impacts.

Several streets were closed in the Panamanian capital as hundreds of people demonstrated against the massive open pit mine.

Felipe Argote, an economist told Reuters: “The contract on social media, claiming First Quantum will take much more from the country economically that it contributes.

“Trade and Industry Minister Federico Alfaro said the company’s remit is limited to copper and its associated minerals, but no precious metals, in an area of some ​​13,000ha. The contract’s final approval will send a positive message to future investors.”