Look at the picture that your author took. See that? Those little sparks in that piece of rock? That's how gold is found. Little bits inside big pieces of stone. So if you have a gold mine, you dig up and cut out these rocks, crush them in a giant machine, and then you need chemicals like cyanide to get the gold out of the crushed mass.
You can also find it in rivers, because the water erodes the rocks and takes the gold with it, and it sinks quickly because gold is heavy. So all you need is a dredge to suck up the sediment from the bottom of your river or stream of choice, and then it goes through a filter system and then you have gold dust. Or, if you're lucky, you dredge up nuggets. They build these dredges in Colón.
Mining companies are generally not interested in river dredging. They go for the big prize; take down a whole mountain or dig a big hole and crush them rocks to get the gold out. What's left is wasteland, large areas with holes and no topsoil where nothing will grow any more. Desert, but worse.
This rock-with-gold in the picture is everywhere in Panama. From Chiriqui to the Darién there is gold to be had. Plus copper. So it's no surprise that we read in La Prensa that if all applications are granted, no less than 44% of Panama's territory will be turned into strip mines. Almost half!
As you can imagine, environmentalists freaked out upon hearing this news (for some mysterious reason, groups like CIAM didn't know this already). There goes the rain forest, the biodiversity, the clean air and the clean rivers (cyanide spills!). But we shouldn't pay too much attention to the environmentalists because they couldn't stop Richard Fifer's trainwreck of a mine called Petaquilla, so they for sure won't be able to stop all the others. Maybe they'll burn some candles during a protest gathering and that's about all we can expect from them. Just like with the "sausage law", the real work will be done by the workers and the indigenous people, with the environmentalists yammering on the sidelines.
La Prensa also offers a great map (PDF) of where all these mines will be located. Lots of concessions are in the indigenous comarcas, and if you were dumb enough to buy into the Red Frog Beach project, well, what's left of Isla Bastimentos is gonna be an open pit mine as well. Poetic justice...
However, key areas like Punta Barco, Coronado, Punta Pacifica, El Valle, Boquete and other such places where the members of our government and their friends live or own their vacation homes are unaffected. So there's nothing to worry about, really.
And the rest of the country? Well, Panama is un hueco anyway so we might as well show it!
don the wanker is now Frank the staunch supporter of the gold and copper mining here in Panama on other blogs?
don the wanker and his guide to mining in panama show what a true shill and internet crook he pretends or aspires too?
You know that if don the wanker supports these horrid mining endeavors, this is how he supports his mental obsessions with white slavery and prostitution and the biggest one mass and serial murders?
Yes, with so many Gringo’s and Expat’s trying to use Panama as there private piggy bank and cash register?
No wonder Panama is becoming un hueco as you reiterated to us!
The truth hurts those who once believed Panama could be a paradise!
“Panama where the numbers never ad up”
Restrict mining to pollute the the areas inhabited by those who don’t count, the poor. Save the nice areas for the rich.
There is only one problem: water flows.
I suppose they want a Coronado or El Valle modeled after Paitilla. Beautiful views just smells like shit 24 hours a day.
If bureaucrats and “profit over dead bodies” type of businessmen think they are safe in green enclaves while the rest of the country is transformed into a desert, they ought to take a crash course in “local climate factors” first.
Evaporation from vegetation keeps the temperature relatively low in the tropics, even during the dry season. But vegetation absent, temperatures will rise to 45C or more.
That in turn affects cloud formation negatively and the result, less rain, will affect the green enclaves and decrease harvests. Eventually the soil at the green enclaves becomes too dry to support vegetation so the enclaves turn into deserts just as well. But before that happens, occasional flash floods, no longer moderated by vegetation, will have wreaked havoc on infrastructure and properties.
As about 60% of the electricity in Panama is generated by hydro, the capital, enjoying 45+ C heat by then, won’t have enough power to keep the air conditioners going. That might even be too much for radiation hardened bureaucrats.
Here is a real challenge to all those mine supporters!
The challenge is to drink and bath in the Petaquilla Mine’s holding pond water for six months Picture in La Prensa August 25, 2010!
To shower or bath in Three gallons or more per day, every day for six months!!
To drink four or more glasses of water(8ounces) per day, every day for six months!
If they are so sure the use of water in the trailing waste, processing, water holding pond, and water run off does not make the water toxic to drink and bath in!
We can rest assured they will drink and bath in the Petaquilla Mine’s holding pond water for six months without hesitation?
Let these individuals prove that by putting themselves and their families health and lives on the line to prove that this Mining in Panama is safe!
All of this must be witnessed by four or more local residents having no ties to the mining project, by four or more members of local environmental groups, by four or more members of a International environmental groups, by four or more locally elected politicians, by four or more members of local employees of ANAM, by four or more members of the National Assembly of Panama, and at least one or more members of President Martinelli’s cabinet and of course the Petaquilla Mining .
If the facts they pro port to support for mining in Panama truly are on the side of righteousness, good and sound Environmental practices this will be easy for a large group of these individuals and their families to voluntarily drink and bath
in the Petaquilla Mine’s holding pond water for six months without hesitation?
This should be easy if they are really telling the truth?
Drink and bath in the Petaquilla Mine’s holding pond water for six months and we will believe your claims of no Environmental harm or damage?
We are waiting?
A great article about mining in Latin America!
New York Times June 14, 2010
The Cost of Gold | 30 Tons an Ounce
Behind Gold’s Glitter: Torn Lands and Pointed Questions
Let me just say a couple of things. Everytime you walk into your kitchen have you counted the amount of metal there is? Are you aware that someone has to go mine those minerals for you to be able to have a fridge, cutlery, a toaster, toaster oven, etc. How about your car. Ever given any thought on how much metal is mined to produce all those cars every year? How about the computer you’re using to see this. You do realize silica is a mineral, and that gold, silver, copper and lead is used extensively inside a computer and that someone has to mine those minerals? I can get not making the world full of holes, but you have to accept humanity will need some sort of mining until some new technology comes along. Oh and by the way….if you were thinking of solar panels….those need minerals to be manufactured as well….so much for “clean” energy!
@GURU: None of what you say justifies giving away concessions for 44% of Panama’s territory.
None of what you say justifies the use of cyanide – something that’s under heavy pressure in Europe at this moment and for good reasons.
None of what you say justifies foreign miners walking away with almost all of the profits and leaving environmental and health devastation behind.
The fact that the world needs raw materials doesn’t mean you have to be irresponsible and reckless in how you obtain them. But I guess a lot of mining companies will have to find that out the hard way.