Petaquilla spill result of fraud

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Runoff of the Petaquilla mine is already destroying streams in the area and affecting local communities

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.

22 thoughts on “Petaquilla spill result of fraud

  1. For all the time that you, Eric, Otto and I have been following this fraudster in his duplicitous dealings with this gold mine, ANCON and a host of other groups have been shrieking about the lack of any truly properly engineered safety containment, including the initial dig which was started without a single permit and had to stop because ANAM had not had its teeth pulled yet. And to Don Winner (another fraudster and parasite without parallel, and Richard Fifer each and every one of us told you so!.

  2. The aerial photographs in La Prensa show no true facilities for water or contaminated water abatement!

    This area has been known for small flash floods down the small valleys and ravines during large thunder storms.

    Having been in the area a few years back, the terrain can be rather steep and subject to large mudslides when the hills sides are disturbed, graded, or tampered with for such things as roads.

    Why would this mining corporation who has many, many environmental problems with it’s mines in Chile, Peru, Mexico, and New Guinea?

    Be any different here in Panama!

    The Environmental disaster has been miss managed from the very inception of this Mining Corporation operations here in Panama.

    Now the German Banks, take and clean up on the gold and profits while the Panamanians get to pay for all the environmental damage and health problems it can ill afford!

    Law 30 gives permission to the Rich and Multi-National Corporations to suspend the rights of the Citizens of Panama.

  3. you can only rectify this with your vote and your demonstrations, and your huelgas. If people are not worried about these things, and they do not voice their concerns, nothing will change. But with the participation of the people, I believe things get better. Will the people rise to the occasion?

    • @FromBocas: This is exactly the problem. If the environmental groups had had their act together, this mine would never have been started in the first place. Not with a corrupt politician at the helm and without following environmental rules. And then again – how much does Panama really gain from this mine?

      There was a shareholder trying to posts some bizarro comment here that we were “smearing” Petaquilla, that nothing was going on, and that now that Petaqilla had entered production they could finally build some schools. This is classic exploitative reasoning, and Petaquilla has been busy window dressing with do-good projects that are dwarfed in size by the profits they’ll make (if they ever get their act together that is).

      This is Panama’s gold. It belongs to Panamanians. Why sell it cheap to Canadian miners and foreign shareholders? For the amount of money the government plans to invest in its next white elephant, the Financial Tower, they could start their own mining operation, do it right and keep the profits here. And then we can build schools for all of Panama. And if foreign corporations want to mine here, fine, but they can’t keep almost all of the loot for themselves.

      But here in Panama, these miners get what they want as long as they contribute to the private retirement funds of the politicians. And that’s where the problem lies with the environmentalists, who treat mining as an environmental issue exclusively and never link it with politics and corruption. People don’t rise up because some company digs a big hole somewhere in the interior where nobody lives anyway. But illegal enrichment by politicians swings elections. Look at the last one.

  4. two comments:1) We get the government we deserve. so if the pePole dont wake up, then be it and we will all pay for the complacency. 2) I still hold some hope that communications (new technologies) is helping get the word out. Although there is not a huge difference in technology from 4 years ago, more of the younger generation is getting “online”. Today in Bocas, the students Joined the “huelga’. This has been a maJor pain in the ninny for all concerned, but the only way they see to get the attention of the government.
    Sometimes things have to get really bad before they start getting better…. but at some point the Panamanian people has to wake up and smell the coffee or the cyanide as the case may be.

  5. As contradictory as it may seem, I think a failure of a storage pond at this early stage may be a good thing. It appears that Panama is at the point of being scarred by various mines in the near future. Could an early disaster be the innoculation of public opinion necessary to fight the oncoming disease of foreign owned mining.?

    Okke is right that mining, especially strip mining, provides nothing to local communities other than wanton environmental damage and a future of birth defects and cancers. Even on a hard cold economic analysis the advantages of allowing strip mines don´t make sense. The percentages received by the aptly named ¨host nations” are miniscule. They don´t cover even half the costs of the environmental clean or future health costs.

    Multinational mining companies look for countries with politicians who are willing to prostitute their own nations and their citizens for a fee. It is like selling one´s childern to a pedophile and then trying to convince the children that it is for their own good.

  6. interesting to see the common thread of indigenous group fighting these proJects. Sad to see that eco-terrors, as you say Dr. Dias, is to be equally instigated by left and right. governments. Expected more from Correa.

  7. and on a small optimistic note, it is good to see the government backed down on their water law changes. Perhaps temporary, but unlikely to have happened 20 years ago.

  8. Eco-terrorist are the ones exploiting the land and stealing resources!

    Not the ones who defend it against abuse and Pollution!

  9. yes of course, did anyone say otherwise? I posted a link to a group in India who had defeated a mine project. You posted a link to a group in Ecuador, trying to defeat a mine project there. This is the common thread I am talking about. And I ask, if it can happen there, why not here. And I also point out that 20 years ago, these things would not have been possible. The indigenous groups in Ecuador would have been repressed, and the same in India. I was also very surprised to see Correa promoting these mining projects. It shows that environmental destruction is not only a product of rightist government. That is what I meant by eco-terror being promoted by either right or left gvnt.

  10. I agree!

    The Internet is a major change for these indigenous groups that have learn to use it and to communicate with it.

    Cellulars are another tool they are learning to use!

    I only wish we had these tools back in sixties!

    Nixon was the real terrorist of the time!

    Now Bush and Cheney are the real war criminals and Eco-terrorist!

    The indigenous groups were pillaged, tortured, enslaved, raped, and had all the gold and wealth that they gathers for thousands of years stolen from them as we know!

    Now they Multi-nationals are starting the whole process all over again!

    The indigenous groups have the right to the lands, water, and the minerals within, that they have occupied over a thousand years.

    Panama and rest of Latin America would much better off if these new foreign multi-national invaders would just leave and leave what is still untouched in the world in peace.

    Just how much money is enough?

    Mining with all it so called technology is still a wasteful enterprise at best!

    with some where around 8 to 10 tons of rock and soil to retrieved ONe ounce of 98% gold!

    The by products and waste are just a long term gift that never goes away!

    Just look at Butte, Montana, Kellogg, Idaho, and Bingham, Utah .

    I have see both and have lived near them, I can personally say there is no safe way of Mining and there is no technology that can rendered mining safe to the environment.

    My rebuttals on various blogs and Yahoo groups on this Petaquilla Mine disaster are either block or highly censored!

    This means that a lot of people are very afraid of what is written and the real the truth!

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

  11. There is now all this controversy about was there a leak or not. Who needs to test what and how. Blah blah.

    Here’s an interesting link:
    “Designed for monitoring effluents and surface waters, the eXact® Strip Cyanide Kit requires as little as two minutes for cyanide colorimetric analysis.”

    It costs like $40.

    Instead of whining and screaming, what the environmentalists should do is buy a load of those, distribute it among the communities around the Petaquilla mine, train people on how to use the test kits and then we have our own open source testing network. Is there a spill or a suspicion of a spill? Test the water immediately and not after two days when the environmentalists and a corrupt ANAM finally show up. The verification is in the numbers: The more people participate the more reliable the results will be.

  12. I think the environmental groups are very much aware of how these environmental issues are linked to corruption.

    But I also have no idea about how to tackle the issue. You can’t change a culture of ‘juega vivo’, cronyism and ‘scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ with a few protest. I has taken over 500 years to build into the gene pool ! Besides a few concerned citizens the average Panamanian is more concerned about getting the latest Blackberry than a few trees in a place he has never visited. When you go to any popular beach, you will see soooo much trash left that it’s obvious to any casual observer that the average Panamanian has zero environmental consiousness. To change this will take a long-terrm educational process which is the last thing the ruling political class is interested in.

    If you want to speed up change, I think somebody more radical action is needed that makes the cost of doing (mining) business simply too expensive and too visible. But it seems even the concerned Panamanians that’s something way out of their comfort zone.

  13. Yes, just like the simple and cheap drug testing kits, these water borne chemical and purity kits are never bought or used because of the lack of Knowledge and cost!

    Why would the Panamanian Government ever do any thing that is above board and morally correct to protect it’s people!!

    It is never in their interest to do so!

    “You can lead a horse to water but you can not make him drink!”

    The comfort zone here is just like that of Rome, crumbling before their eyes!

    The unconcerned Panamanians really believe the government will still take care of them and has they best interest at heart!

    Just like every other culture it consumes itself and the hell with the future!

    Now the Panamanian Government wants to let Foreign Governments have direct investments and mining rights here!

    If the Panamanian Government were not so greedy and lazy !

    They would take “The Editors” suggestion to build and control the mines them selves and reaped the profits!

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

  14. @Dr Dias,

    I think the “unconcerned Panamanian” is resigned and has a sense of hopelessness. I have never met a Panamanian that thinks the government has their best at heart. There are so few good alternatives and each new government since the Invasion has, despite all belief at the time, has been worse than its predecesor.

    Panamanians are truly immersed in consumerism at the moment. It is hard for the people of any country to resist this illness, particularly one that has so much commerce, poor education and so few cultural outlets.

    Panama could model itself after Costa Rica and concentrate on becoming a leader in conservation issues. But it would be tough. Even Costa Rica, that has benefited so much from its green image, is toying with the idea of open pit mines.

    The idea of Papito to raise the costs and visibility of local mining seems to have merit but without violence and sabotage how could this happen? I had a friend of the family who ran a Canadian mine in Peru in the 90´s that contaminated the water of thousands of people. The locals rebelled and he his wife and their children were almost killed. He left in fear and the company replaced him. However the company behaved itself a little better after the locals had destroyed millions in machinery and had brought the mine into the public spotlight.

    Perhaps without resorting to violence the environmental movements shoud concentrate on publicity in Canada for example. Canada is a generally benign place that has disgraceful mining companies. Canadians know very little of the damage that their mines cause and are generally socially sensitive people. A well place campaign there may have an effect.
    The consumer hamster wheel

  15. Today La Prensa( Friday 27 Aug 2010) has a good article about the Mining concessions the Government has now given away or intends too!

    A Map showing over 44% of the country of Panama is now tied up foreign mining interests!

    The rest of Panama is up for grabs to foreign mining interests!

    Panama once known for cleanest and most drinkable water!

    Panama now is becoming a Toxic waste dump for the First World Natural Resource thieves and Pillagers!

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

  16. Pingback: Panama mining concessions spare important areas | Bananama Republic

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