New twist for mining company
PANAMA. The copper mine of Cerro Petaquilla, in Colon province is taking another twist. Recently the Canadian mining corporation Inmet...
PANAMA. The copper mine of Cerro Petaquilla, in Colon province is taking another twist. Recently the Canadian mining corporation Inmet bought 74 percent of its shares and created a new company called Minera Panama.
Minera Panama is trying to clean up the bad name the open cast mining project acquired in the past and gain support within the indigenous community that would be most affected by the possible pollution and environmental damages that a copper exploitation operation might produce.
The managing director of Minera Panama, Warren Yau said that his company is planning to invest $3.5 billion during the 23 years that they are planning to extract copper, because it is expected that after that time it will run out. During that period around 5 million tonnes of the mineral will be mined from Petaquilla.
“The reason we are here is because the price of copper has gone up and now it is a viable business proposition that will benefit the mining company and the country alike,” said Yau.
The concession area is 13,000 hectares and they are planning to develop 3,000 hectares, which includes three principal areas of operation, which are the mining sector, the transport route and the port zone.
The original owner of the mine was Richard Pfiffer and his shares on Mina Petaquilla were floated on the Canadian stock market where they were bought by Inmet. He kept his interest in 600 hectares located in El Molejon, with the intention of extracting gold.
One of the main problems Minera Panama is going to have is the environmental impact study.
Under its previous life as Petaquilla, the project was publicly vilified by environmentalists and local leaders alike for the damages that open cast mining could cause to the ecosystem.
Yau said that his company is investing $75 million in a social and environmental impact study that will be carried out by the Canadian company Golders Associates and completed in 2009.
According to the director, the main concern of the Minera Panama is to respect and protect the environment as much a possible and the hole left behind by the mining operation will be covered with water creating an artificial lake, which at the bottom will have sediments from the mining that will have been treated to avoid any kind of pollution.
They are also planning to create training centers for inhabitants in the area who wish to work in the mine and have a reforestation program to replace some of the trees that would have to be cut to carry out the copper extraction.
According to Yau jobs will be generated as well as road construction that will bring the indigenous communities into the 21st century.
He added that the relationship between the company and the residents are good and there has not have been any protest against Minera Panama, on the contrary everybody has cooperated fully with them.
The only obstacles between Minera Panama and the copper is the National Environment Agency, which will have to decide if the operation goes ahead or not and the environmentalists, who do not want to see an open cast mine in operation in Panama.