On November 28, 2023, Panama’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled the Cobré Panamá copper mine unconstitutional, referencing the national Rights of Nature law (Law 287) passed in February 2022, among its rationale for ruling against the mine. A process to close the mine will commence as soon as the Supreme Court’s ruling is formally published in the official gazette.
The Court’s ruling is a clear application of Panama’s Rights of Nature law. The court reaffirmed that Nature is a subject of rights – including the right to be protected, restored, and to regenerate its life cycles – and ruled that the mining contract did not meet these standards because it failed to include strict measures to prevent environmental damage. The ruling follows weeks of nationwide protests, with opponents noting the mine’s degradation of coastal rainforests that supply freshwater to the region and harm to the Indigenous population and endangered species.