The authorities as well as environmental group ANCON are doing tests in the rivers around the Petaquilla gold mine to determine if indeed cyanide has leaked from the separation tank. Workers and area residents had claimed that the walls of the tank had ruptured after massive rainfall, due to poor quality construction.
Petaquilla itself maintains that nothing happened, but has suspended its operations to avoid the tank filling up any further. Authorities said already that the tank is “at its maximum”.
Petaquilla, whose president Richard Fifer is a corrupt former governor of the Coclé province, is hastily constructing an emergency overflow tank to deal with the spills.
However, according to its own environmental impact study, that tank should already have been there in January, before they started operations. Why Petaquilla was allowed to start operating without having complied with that condition in an area that gets vast amounts of rain year-round is anyone’s guess.
Initially Petaquilla claimed that the emergency tank would be ready on Sunday, but now the date is set as “next week”. Meanwhile. it continues to rain.
The government of President Martinelli has recently passed the so-called “sausage law”, which eliminates environmental impact studies altogether if the government approves of a project. Martinelli is also preparing to allow South Korean mining companies to set up shop in Panama, including inside autonomous indigenous areas.