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Sunday, July 22 2018 @ 09:45 PM EDT

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Biased Manipulation of News Media on Petaquilla Story

Gold & MiningBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Yeah, that's what I thought. When I got back from my trip to the US I shot out a quick note on the Americans in Panama Yahoo email group, just to let everyone know that I was marking about 160 messages as "read" (even though I had not actually read them.) And, I asked if I had missed anything important. Check this out:

  • "Mr. Winner: Among the messages you have transferred o your "read" file, there were at least 2 which referred to the erroneous La Prensa story on Saturday claiming that Petaquilla's tailings pond overflowed due to heavy rains, contaminating the site and forcing workers to flee to safety. This story was patently untrue, but wreaked havoc with investors and the company, just following the release by PTQ of the news of the long-pending Deutsche Bank financing deal. Although countered by a Petaquilla Minerals news release and an article in the Silvermine website, as well as another positive blog, no retraction was ever made by La Prensa, or by Newsroom Panama, which pulled rebuttal comments from its own derogatory article. Consequently, I have just written and submitted a short rebuttal artice for your consideration and hopeful publication. I appreciate your prior support of the Petaquilla's development of their Molejon project, and the fact that it is an initial attempt to responsibly develop Panama's resources. I hope you will see fit either to publish the article as submitted, or write one of your own after investigating the situation. I'll be happy to assist, without credit, in any way you may wish. Sincerely, Peter."

  • "Published rebuttals to erroneous story: On August 21st, La Prensa published a story claiming that Petaquilla Minerals' Molejon gold mining site was spilling seriously contaminated water from its supposedly overflowing tailings pond. This story has been refuted by Panama's environmental agency (as published today in La Prensa). Following is a link to a Petaquilla Minerals update to correct the misinformation in the press: www.petaquillalive.com. In addition, there have been two other websites which have tried to offset the apparently purposeful negative publicity:http://bsc2001.wordpress.com/ and http://www.silverminers.com/commentary/wallace/index.php?&content_id=691.

That's Too Bad: I noticed a long time ago that the La Prensa newspaper has a regular and repeating tendency to "lean" toward the environmental angle of any story. Apparently it has now become clear that the information contained in their article about this supposed spill is incorrect. Anyway, by now my personal position on mining operations in Panama should be perfectly clear because I've discussed this topic on literally dozens of occasions. I believe it is possible to conduct mining operations in a responsible manner, while mitigating and controlling potential environmental damage. I'm generally in favor of mineral exploitation as long as a fair share of those resources are returned to the people of Panama. And, the money being spent in the country to develop and operate the mines is significant. The people who are now working at that mine were probably unemployed before, for example. Anyway, I just wish the news media would treat the entire issue "straight up" and fairly. And believe me, if Petaquilla (or any other mine operator) was in fact not in compliance with the environmental oversight requirements, then I would be right there, pinging away. In this case it's sad that the environmental activists had to stoop to an outright fabrication in order to score a few points. Someone should explain to them that these kind of shenanigans will actually hurt their cause, in a strategic sense.

Update: Apparently the wordpress blog has only one entry - this article about Petaquilla and the Facebook postings of Ana Perez and others. That means it was a hit-piece done to get the information out there, but in a manner typical of Panama - trying to hide behind some kind on anonymity.

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Nuts Using The Media To Kick Petaquilla In Their Golden Nuts...

Gold & MiningBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've been predicting this for about five years, and it's finally come true. The Petaquilla gold mine is now operational and turning a profit. Of course, this simple fact is driving the environmental extremists and activists crazy. There is a coordinated effort among the environmental activists in Panama to manipulate the media in order to cause harm to Petaquilla, no matter what. I received links to the following via email:

Expect More: The environmental activists who are dead-set against any kind of mining activity in Panama will come up with more crazy stuff. And, if they can't come up with anything true or real, they will create and manufacture false information, and then use the local media to disseminate, distribute, and spread those false reports. They see themselves as soldiers, and (in their minds anyway) the ends justifies the means. There will be more of this as the debate heats up over the even larger and more ambitious copper project which will dwarf the Petaquilla project. All I'm saying is - here it comes. Use your own brain and draw your own conclusions. Expect (much) more.

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Check Out Petaquilla (Again, I Know...)

Gold & Mining By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've been waiting forever for this Petaquilla stock (ptqmf.ob) to go nuts. I mean, like years. They have been working for what seems like forever to get their gold mine operational, and now they are producing gold every month and selling it for a profit. They are getting their price per ounce production costs down while increasing monthly production. More output, less expensive to produce. And, they have now been into full commercial production for about seven months. So, why in hell has the stock price been dribbling down from 94 cents per share on 11 January 2010, all the way to 30 cents per share on 8 July 2010? It made no sense, to me anyway. I can only imagine that people are still afraid of the "ghost of Richard Fifer" and they've been sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see if it's "real." In the last seven trading days, the stock has gone from 30 cents per share to close today at 45 cents per share, a 50% increase in just over a week. Have investors finally gotten confidence in the Petaquilla gold mine? I've been waiting for this friggin' pig to fly - any day now...

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Petaquilla Producing 6,000 Ounces of Gold Per Month

Gold & Mining The business prospects for Petaquilla Gold keep getting brighter, since the government of Ricardo Martinelli approved operating permits that had been pending for more than three years. The company reported that since it began commercial production of gold in January 2010 they have removed an average of 6,000 ounces of gold per month, which they have sold at prices ranging from $945 to $1,145 per ounce. Through June 2010 sales figures totaled more than $36 million dollars - an average of 6,000 ounces of gold sold per month at an average of about $1,000 per ounce - reduced by operating costs of $21 million dollars. According to the company, the cost of producing each ounce of gold is $600. But the mine has not been able to shake off the rejection of environmental groups which have expressed doubts about the manner in which the government quickly approved permits for gold mining. On 18 November 2009, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Mici) approved the commercial operating permit for Petaquilla Minerals after a renegotiation of the contract and strange restructuring of the Board of Directors of the company that ended with the withdrawal of Richard Fifer. On that same date the ANAM issued a statement saying Petaquilla Gold had complied with all outstanding payments, and that there were no additional studies pending.

For the National Association for the Conservation of Nature (Ancon) the approval of both institutions is "very suspicious." This is because ANAM Resolution Number 809, issued on 26 January 2008, placed as a provision for the approval of the Environmental Impact Study for this project the submission of five additional studies, as well as a provision requiring a deposit of $10 million dollars as a guarantee against environmental damages, as well as another for $4.3 million dollars. In all there were 49 prerequisites established in resolution 809. However, the company has its own explanation to the doubts that arise and why there is no record of their compliance with the new requirements.

Rodrigo Esquivel, the manager of Petaquilla Gold, said the company notified the Anam that they would "not undertake the other works that required additional studies." Esquivel said the company did present the two new bonds and stressed that as evidence that they have complied with all of the requirements of Resolution 809 is that on 13 May 2010 ANAM certified that the mine is in compliance with all mitigation measures. He added that on 25 May 2010 MICI also certified that they are properly managing cyanide and that water quality is at acceptable levels.

In contrast, business and Anam are in a dispute over two fines applied during the previous administration for damages to the environment. The head of legal department of Anam, Carmen Urriola, said that due to the lack of a final court decision in the case, they have not been able to proceed with the recovery of the two sanctions for $1.9 million dollars. However, Urriola revealed that Anam is opening a new administrative process against the mine for the same causes: breaches of environmental measures. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Even though Petaquilla has been producing gold now for more than six months, the stock price today (ptqmf.ob) is down to 31 cents per share. In early January 2010 when they first started commercial production, the stock price was as high as 94 cents per share. That price per share has steadily declined over the past six months, seemingly flying in the face of all reason and logic. Obviously Petaquilla's goal is to continue to produce at least 6,000 ounces or more per month, while reducing their per ounce production costs down as far as possible, and it's capable of going down to much less than $600 per ounce. Right now gold is at $1,192 per ounce. I still think this company is flying below the radar of everyone except those who actively seek out gold stocks, and that sooner or later the numbers will "flip" in the company's favor. They had to invest a lot of money to build the mine and to get it operational, so their first profits will actually be going to pay off existing debt. They are still about $70 million dollars in debt, a situation that will steadily improve over time now that they are actually producing gold and making money. And, I still feel that this stock is now at a bargain basement price. I expect that sooner or later the stock price will rebound sharply. You can play with the numbers yourself. Balance ounces produced per month, subtract per ounce production cost to get profit per ounce, multiply times the value of gold at any time. For example if Petaquilla can get their monthly production up to 8,000 ounces per month, if they can get their production costs down to $400 per ounce, and if gold prices stay at around $1,200 per ounce, that would mean 8,000 ounces with $800 per ounce profit, or $6.4 million dollars per month. Obviously this number would go up or down with the modification of any of the variables. However, if they can start cranking out $6.4 million per month profit they could pay off their existing $70 in debt in less than one year if they wanted to. Sooner or later this stock goes nuts. I know I've been saying that for years, and I still think it's true and real. I'm just being patient. It's your play money so make your own smart and well informed decisions.

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S Korea's Eximbank in JV to develop Panama copper mine

Gold & MiningSEOUL (Asia In Focus via COMTEX) -- The EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF KOREA (Eximbank) said Wednesday it has reached a preliminary deal with Canada's resources developer INMET MINING CORP. and others to jointly develop a copper mine in Panama. Eximbank said it has clinched the deal with the Canadian firm, a consortium of the state-run KOREA RESOURCES CORP. and LS-NIKKO COPPER INC., and Korea's state-run export insurance agency KOREA EXPORT INSURANCE CORP (KEIC). The agreement calls for the state-run lender to provide financial support with the KEIC and promote cooperation between financial institutions and resource developers for the "Cobre Panama" copper mine development project. Inmet holds a 100 per cent stake in the copper mine and the consortium has an option to purchase a 20 per cent stake in the mine, it added.

Editor's Comment: Ah, so that's it. Please go back, read that article again, and look for the words "state run." The Eximbank is basically like the National Bank of South Korea, basically an arm or offshoot of the Government of the Republic of Korea. The same thing goes for the Korea Resources Corp. and the Korea Export Insurance Corp. The President of Korea came to Panama because the government of Korea is going to be up to their eyeballs in this copper mine project, not just privately owned Korean companies. The business environment is much different in Asia - it's very common for there to be a tight connection between big (huge) companies and the governments of the countries where they are based. It's a cultural difference more than anything else. In the US and Western societies there's a tendency to frown upon such close joint ventures. Well, except in cases when the government steps in to keep a company from failing. Anyway, as expected Inmet's copper deal is a go. This is a massive good news story for Panama, strategically speaking. The environmentalists won't like it very much, but that's to be expected.

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Inmet Mining willing to move Panama community

Gold & MiningReuters reported Canada's Inmet Mining will relocate people affected by a giant copper mine it plans to develop in central Panama. Mr Jochen Tilk CEO of Inmet said the company is betting its USD 5 billion Cobre Panama development will transform the company but other mine projects have run up against difficulties with indigenous groups and small farmers in the Central American nation. He said obviously if people are living right on the property, then there is the need for relocation. The company will also take the surrounding population into account. Mr Tilk said developing a project of this size is always a challenge. Inmet will follow the World Bank's International Finance Corporation standards if relocation is required. The government of market friendly president Mr Ricardo Martinelli wants to expand Panama's small mining industry, particularly for another large copper deposit in a semi autonomous region, where local indigenous groups oppose his plans. The Toronto based company estimates the mine, expected to begin production in the Q3 of 2015, will produce an average of 255,000 tonnes of copper a year. Inmet also projects average annual gold production of 90,000 ounces and 1.5 million ounces of silver during the mine's 30 year lifespan. Mr Tilk said the company operates mines in Spain, Papua New Guinea, Turkey, Canada and Finland and is not interested in exploring for precious metals. We're a base metal company so there is really no intention to shift our strategic focus. He said the company is currently in talks for partnerships with some junior mining companies to explore for copper in Peru.
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Mining Sector Will Benefit From New Panama - Canada FTA

Gold & MiningThe mining sector in Panama could be one of the major beneficiaries of the new bilateral Free Trade Agreement signed this week between Panama and Canada. The agreement was signed in the Canadian capital by trade ministers from Canada and Panama, Peter Van Loan and Roberto Henriquez, respectively, and once it is ratified by the parliaments of both countries tariffs on bilateral trade will be reduced by more than 90%. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the signing of the agreement, which Minister Van Loan highlighted as an example of the importance the Canadian government gives free trade with the Americas. Henriquez said the arrival "of Canadian investment in Panama is sure to grow explosively," especially now that the Central American country "has also decided to develop a serious policy in the mining sector, because Canada is the world's miner." "I think Canada also will benefit from the enormous amount of public investment that we have, and with this treaty they will have advantages for investment. We're talking about $13.6 billion dollars, without counting the expansion of the Panama Canal," said the Panamanian minister. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: That's the first time I've heard this number - $13.6 billion dollars - that the government of Panama is planning to spend in public funds on infrastructure improvements, things like the new Metro system for example. Supposedly that expenditure does not count the $5.25 billion that is being spent to expand the Panama Canal. Great. The more the merrier. The vast majority of that money will be spent right here in Panama on wages, materials, services, etc. And Henriquez is right - Canadian companies now have an advantage over other competitors (like, from the United States) because they can import equipment duty free, for example. The US should ratify the bilateral free trade agreement as soon as possible. Obama can't do it because the unions are already pissed, and if they pass these agreements the unions will explode in a fireball of rage. So, it's a dilemma for the Democrats which will screw them one way or the other come November.

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Petaquilla Highlights Financial and Operating Performance

Gold & MiningVANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. announces its gold production in Q3 2010 increased by 3,274 ounces or 31% over Q2 2010. As a result of this production increase, together with reductions in operating costs, cash costs were reduced to US$637 per ounce on a by-product basis, down 33.6% from US$960 per ounce in Q2 2010. Gross margin from the sale of gold in Q3 2010 amounted to $4.7 million.

Similarly, in line with the above performance, administrative and other expenses for the nine months ended February 2010 were reduced by US$3.6 million or 26% to US$10.3 million compared to US$13.9 million for the nine months ended February 2009.

The Company is also pleased to announce that it has poured approximately 6,500 ounces of gold during the initial four pours of the current month of April and, as a result, is targeting cash costs in the mid-US$500 per ounce range for the month.

In addition to the recurrent gold production process operation and for the second phase of the Company's heap leach project, Petaquilla initiated the construction of an on-site test facility to determine the recoverability of the different ore types and particle sizes for the planned heap leach operation expected to commence during the first calendar quarter of 2011. The Company anticipates the heap leach operation will generate an additional 50,000 ounces of gold annually.

Simultaneously, the Company advanced its exploration work at its 100% Oro del Norte concession, moving from initial superficial rock chipping and sampling activities, as disclosed in the Company's news release of December 14, 2009, to a trenching and drilling program with a professional crew working onsite since early March. The Company will provide regular updates on the respective results.

About Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. - Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. is a gold producer operating its gold processing plant at its 100% owned Molejon Gold Project in Panama. Anticipated throughput for the project during the first year of commercial production is estimated to be 2200 tonnes per day. Commercial production commenced January 8, 2010. The Molejon mine site is located in the south central area of the Company's 100% owned 842-square kilometre concession lands, a region known historically for gold content.

Editor's Comment: And this is the part where I get to say "I told you so." With this report, Petaquilla is letting the world know that they are now in full production, regularly producing thousands of ounces of gold per quarter and they are making a steady profit from the sales of the gold they produce. As they get more experienced on site the production cost per ounce of gold continues to drop. And obviously, if each ounce of gold costs less to produce then profits are higher on the other side when it's sold. Right now, as of this writing, gold is at $1,168 per ounce. So, if Petaquilla expects to be able to further reduce the production cost per ounce down to $500 dollars then they're making more than $600 per ounce in revenues. I've been following this project closely for many years, and it's immensely satisfying to see this project finally on line, producing, and making money. The government of Panama gets paid for every ounce of gold produced. Those production costs of $500 to $600 per ounce - that's money being spent right here in Panama as well. There are hundreds of people working for Petaquilla who would otherwise be unemployed. As a result of this press release, Petaquilla's stock (PTQMF) has jumped 8.41% just this morning, but it's still only 52 cents per share. It's been a long time coming, but it's coming. Just like I said it would...

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Varela Discusses Copper Mine Project

Gold & MiningPanama's Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela is not ruling out the possibility of the start of a copper mining project in the province of Coclé with the participation of the Korean government. He said it is evaluating the issue and that "it is a reality that we do not have to hide from the public." He said Korea has shown interest in participating in the copper mining project, and that President Ricardo Martinelli will discuss the issue in June, when he meets with his Korean counterpart Lee Myung-Bak. Although Varela did not specify the area where the mining would take place, he said the project could created a lot of jobs.

Regarding environmental concerns surrounding this practice, he said they are studying environmental laws that allow foreign companies to participate in the development of mining in the country. "I am aware there are concerns in the environmental sector, but we cannot close the door to the growth of the country," he said. For his part, Julio Cesar Castillo, Director of Environmental Quality of the ANAM, said they would audit the operation to ensure 100% compliance with environmental laws. He reiterated that it falls to ANAM to reduce the environmental impact of all projects to obtain sustainable development. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: This is probably a reference to the Inmet project and South Korea's LS-Nikko Copper. Last year, Inmet agreed to give South Korea's LS-Nikko Copper the right to acquire a 20 percent right in Cobre Panama. This is the huge open pit copper mine project I've been talking about for quite some time, which could end up being one of the largest copper deposits in the world. The Koreans probably don't trust the Panamanian business environment and have concerns over corruption. They are most likely afraid of making a substantial commitment to the project without concrete guarantees, which will probably emerge from the discussions between Martinelli and Lee Myung-Bak.

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Martinelli - "There's Oil in the Darién"

Gold & Mining PANAMA (ACAN-EFE) - Panama's president Ricardo Martinelli said "there's oil" in the dense jungles of Panama's Darién province, and that he would promote the development of mining as well as the extraction and exploitation of other resources in the country while respecting the environment. Martinelli said "even though you won't believe it, I'm going to say something that I probably should not say, that in Panama there is oil in the area of the Darién. We are performing the studies and we have confirmed that the same underground petroleum resources being exploited in neighboring Colombia also exist in Panama." Martinelli spoke on this subject as part of his inaugural address at the opening of the Annual Conference of Business Executives, organized by the Panamanian Association of Business Executives. "Mining is important. It has a great future in Panama. There are many companies interested in investing in the country," added the president. He said his government will promote responsible mining and oil exploitation, so that they "pay dividends to the State, respecting the environment, and with an orderly development." Martinelli said next Friday he would visit a place, whose specific location he did not divulge, to see where people collect oil that comes up to the surface. "I have to see it with my own eyes," he said. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Again, same old story of unfulfilled hopes and promises. Back during the administration of Martin Torrijos there were several companies, specifically wildcat drillers from Texas among others, who actively sought permission and concessions to tap into the petroleum resources that actually do exist under Panamanian soil (on the mainland) as well as offshore. The geological studies were done a long time ago, and in fact the information has been updated with more precise and sophisticated technology recently. These companies got momentarily excited over the possibilities of being able to develop the exploitation of these petroleum reserves, and then the same old trick occurred. The hands came out, looking for bribes. I heard the same stories about how people wanted to charge as much as $10,000 just to get a meeting with a Minister or some important government person who supposedly had the clout and political power to get things done. Of course, all of the companies who were initially interested packed their bags and left. A few years ago I had a very long conversation with one of those Texas oilmen who explained to me in precise detail exactly what had happened, and why they were leaving. He predicted to me then that the exact same thing was going to happen with all of the refinery deals that were supposedly being put together, and of course he was right, they all fell apart, thanks to the cultural Panamanian need to try to suck money out of anyone who wants to invest in the country. One can only hope that Ricardo Martinelli is different. Panama already has the Canal which is being expanded to the point where it will generate $5 billion dollars in revenue every year. There is already at least one gold mine now on line and producing (Petaquilla), a huge copper deposit is about to be developed (Inmet), and if you add oil to the mix then of course all of that adds up to a much more prosperous future for the average Panamanian. It looks like it's all coming together for Panama, soon to be the richest country in Latin America.

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Petaquilla Finances the Redemption of its Senior Secured Notes

Gold & MiningVANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Apr 13, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. is pleased to announce it has signed an engagement letter pursuant to which it will work with a leading financial institution to execute a US$70 million gold linked facility under which the Company would be required to deliver 91,710 ounces of gold over a five year term. The terms of this facility are outlined in an indicative financing term sheet, which includes other price participation terms that enable the Company to participate in gold prices up to US$1,250 per ounce for the committed ounces. The transaction is subject to structuring and underwriting fees totaling 4% of the facility amount. No other upfront fees, warrants or interest are to be paid to the financial institution during the term of the facility. This transaction is subject to technical, legal and financial due diligence and the execution of final, legally binding transaction documentation.

The IRR of the facility is 8.5%, assuming that gold prices stay within the agreed limits of the price cap. The term-sheet includes an "optional early termination" clause whereby the Company has the option to early repay the outstanding balance of the gold facility in the event gold prices move upwards and beyond the level of US$1,250 per ounce. This optional early termination clause is subject to a 5% premium payment calculated on the early repayment amount.

The terms of the engagement letter incorporate, inter alia, the possibility of a simultaneous or subsequent participation of one or several leading Panamanian banks which have expressed their interest in funding up to US$35 million of the total US$70 million financing requirement. In such event, the gold facility would then be reduced by the amount equivalent to the Panamanian banks' participation. No early termination premium of 5% is to be payable in case the Panamanian banks' participation is to occur subsequent to the closing of the initial US$70 million facility.

The amount of 91,710 ounces that would be committed to the gold facility represents approximately 8.5% of the Company's total gold resources or 4.2% if the facility is to be reduced to US$35 million as a result of the above mentioned participation by Panamanian banks. The proceeds of the facility will be used principally to redeem all of the Company's outstanding senior secured notes, in the combined amount of US$69.6 million in principal, plus any accrued interest up to the date of redemption. These senior secured notes would otherwise mature at various dates during the next 12 months.

The five year term of the gold facility, coupled with an attractive embedded cost of capital, will substantially strengthen the financial profile of the Company, providing additional liquidity to further develop its production capabilities and exploration potential. Mr. Joao Manuel, Petaquilla's President and CEO commented, "We are very pleased to have signed this engagement letter with such a reputable leading player in the global commodities market. This gold facility will enhance the Company's balance-sheet, by reducing the financial risk implicit in the outstanding high-yield senior secured notes, while extending the repayment of the credit facility to five years. Furthermore, the flexibility of this instrument ensures that the Company's shareholders will preserve their ability to benefit from the upside value of eventually higher gold prices in the future."

The Company further announces that it will now focus its efforts on the very promising exploration potential of its Oro del Norte concession, where it has initiated a drilling program aimed at confirming the prospective gold grades identified during the early superficial rock sampling and trenching stages, while also advancing the Molejon heap leach project, which will add approximately 150,000 ounces, over the life of mine, to the existing process operation, and completing the spin out of its infrastructure affiliate, Petaquilla Infrastructure Ltd. Once executed, this gold facility will provide a solid financial basis for such developments, ensuring the sustainable, long-term value creation for shareholders.

About Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. - Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. is a gold producer operating its gold processing plant at its 100% owned Molejon Gold Project in Panama. Anticipated throughput for the project during the first year of commercial production is estimated to be 2200 tonnes per day. Commercial production commenced January 8, 2010. The Molejon mine site is located in the south central area of the Company's 100% owned 842-square kilometre concession lands, a region known historically for gold content.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of PETAQUILLA MINERALS LTD.

Richard Fifer, Chairman of the Board of Directors

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CANADIAN MINING PERSPECTIVE: Inmet raises $500 million for mine in Panama

Gold & MiningBy: Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal) Congratulations to Inmet Mining of Toronto. The company announced on March 31, 2010, that it is raising $500 million with which to proceed with the Cobre Panama (Petaquilla) development. The money will come from subscription receipts issued to Ellington Investment, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, a private company with offices in Singapore and other major cities. My mind boggles at the thought of raising half-a-billion dollars from a single investor. But the fact that Inmet can find that kind of funding speaks to the quality of the Cobre Panama project. Measured and indicated resources are 3.27 billion tonnes averaging 0.36% Cu, 0.007% Mo, 0.6 g/t Au and 1.30 g/t Ag, minable using open pit methods. And inferred resources almost as much at slightly lower grades. The deposit is located 120 km west of Panama City and only 20 km from tidewater. Inmet's dreams are big, too. The company is planning a 150,000 t/d operation with a pre-production capital cost of US$4.32 billion. (That amount also boggles my mind.)

Much remains to be done this year. Inmet plans to complete the front-end engineering and design (FEED) study, submit an updated 43-101 resource estimate, submit the environmental impact assessment to the Panamanian authorities, and more. The company says environmental approval and construction permitting is expected to take 12 months. Construction would take another 48 months. By my estimate, that puts initial production in 2015, unless there are unforeseen delays.

The new mine could provide the foundation for Inmet to grow for the next 30 years. The company produced approximately 125,000 tonnes of copper from five operating mines in 2009. Compare that to over 280,000 tonnes of copper in each of the first 16 years of operation, and the importance of Cobre Panama is clear. With a continued rising price of copper, Inmet looks to have a winner in the making.

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Inmet updates on Panama copper project; shares jump

Gold & MiningBANGALORE, March 31 (Reuters) - Inmet Mining said an interim study showed significant increase in the output and size of its copper deposits in Panama and said it will raise about C$500 million ($490.7 million) from an unit of Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek, sending its shares up about 9 percent. The Toronto-based base metals miner, which has been seeking partners to develop its Cobre Panama project for an estimated $5 billion, said it was evaluating additional sources of equity and debt capital. Last year, the company entered into an option agreement giving South Korea's LS-Nikko Copper the right to acquire a 20 percent interest in the project. The company said its preliminary agreements with global customers Aurubis AG and LS-Nikko could provide up to $1 billion in debt financing. Inmet said it sees reserves of 20 billion pounds of copper and 5 million ounces of gold at Cobre Panama as the front end engineering and design study expanded the project's output by about 25 percent and more than tripled its measured and indicated resources. "We expect the project will deliver a levered rate of return of 15.1 percent at a copper price of $2.10 per pound, which establishes Cobre Panama as a solid project economically," Chief Executive Jochen Tilk said in a statement.

TEMASEK DEAL: Separately, Inmet said it will sell about 9.3 million subscription receipts, priced at about C$54 per receipt to Ellington Investments Pte, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek, and expects the deal to be completed by the end of April. On completion of certain conditions, the subscription receipts will be exchanged for an equal number of Inmet's common shares and the funds, to be held in escrow by CIBC Mellon Trust Co, will be released to Inmet. Following exchange of the receipts, Ellington and Inmet will enter into an investor rights agreement, under which Temasek unit will be entitled to name its nominee to Inmet board, the company said in a statement. Shares of Inmet were up about 8 percent at C$59.77 in midday trade Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They hit a high of C$60.44 earlier in the day. ($1=1.019 Canadian Dollar) (Reporting by Ashutosh Joshi in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)

Editor's Comment: Good for Panama. Inmet raises the money and then spends it here to develop the mine. Absolutely wonderful news, economically speaking.

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Inmet arranges $500-million equity financing; proceeds to be used for Panama copper project

Gold & MiningBy: THE CANADIAN PRESS - Inmet Mining Corp. has arranged a $500-million equity financing through Ellington Investments Pte. Ltd., a subsidiary of a Singapore-based investment company with holdings in Asia and Latin America. Net proceeds from the agreement will be used by Inmet for the development of the Toronto-based mining company's Cobre Panama copper, gold and molybdenum project in Panama. The deal is the latest evidence of renewed interest in copper, a base metal used in a wide variety of industrial and construction purposes, and more relaxed credit conditions. Inmet's agreement calls for Ellington to buy about 9.3 million subscription receipts at just over $54 each. The receipts can be exchanged on a one-for-one basis for shares of Inmet, or about 14 per cent of its outstanding common stock, after certain conditions are met. Ellington will have a right to nominate one member to Inmet's board of directors, so long as Ellington or its affiliates own at least five per cent of Inmet. Ellington or other members of the Singapore-based Temasek group agreed to hold their Inmet shares for at least a year, subject to certain conditions. Temasek Holdings is an Asia investment company with about a portfolio worth about US$119 billion. It has 12 affiliates and offices in Asia and Latin America. The investing group will have the opportunity to maintain their proportional stake in Inmet if it issues more stock.

Editor's Comment: While gold mining in Panama might be sexy, the real money is in this copper deposit, which when fully developed could be the largest in the world. The potential positive economic impact for Panama is substantial, both in the short term and over the long haul. When I read this article it says "Inmet is making arrangements to raise $500 million dollars which will be used to develop a copper mine in Panama." My ears hear that as "the more than half a billion dollars raised by Inmet will be spent in Panama to develop a copper mine, creating jobs, growing the economy, increasing Foreign Direct Investment," etc. In other words, Inmet will raise this money outside of Panama and then spend it here. To that I say, "thank you very much." Sure, there are alway environmental concerns when dealing with the potential for a new copper mine located in what used to be relatively pristine mountain jungle terrain. However I say those concerns can be effectively managed and addressed, environmental impact can be mitigated, and over the long haul (decades) the topography can be returned to an environmentally friendly state. The holes can be filled, the topsoil replaced, and the jungle will move right back in after the copper has been removed. There are ways to do this in a responsible manner. Anyway, the bottom line is that Inment will raise and spend an additional $500 million dollars in Panama. Look at it this way - that's equal to about 10% of the cost of the expansion of the Panama Canal. It's a good thing, if you own a calculator.

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Discussion Over Mining in Panama Continues

Gold & MiningGrandparents in Panama have long spoken of the existence of indigenous burial sites where they were lucky enough to find gold buried with the bodies. There are millions of ounces of gold and other mineral ores buried under Panama's soil, however her virgin forests, rivers, flora and fauna represent another of the country's treasures. Mining companies in Panama are seeking to extract and exploit more than 38.2 million pounds of copper and 3.3 million pounds of gold, reserves estimated to exist in Panama by private companies. Environmentalists are on the other side of the argument, who say the nation's more than 500 rivers as well as the subterranean aquifer will be polluted thanks to the extraction of the precious metals.

"You have to understand, mining is not an option for Panama (...) it is a highly polluting industry, which they intend to install in a country where the water source, our greatest resource, will be used to conduct the waste they generate," said Raisa Banfield, the Director of the Center for Environmental Advocacy (CIAM). Along with Banfield, civil organizations such as the National Association for the Conservation of Nature (ANCON) do not see how it is possible to extract copper and gold through mining without harming the country, because no state infrastructure exists to control the mining companies if they do not control pollution.

However, the miners say the times have changed. They recognize that in the '60s mining was a polluting industry, and that it was not until the last decade that the idea of mining in an environmentally responsible manner became popular. "This is a concept we have handled in recent years, but we know how, we are professional, serious companies listed on stock exchanges and we can not afford to be seen as inefficient by our shareholders," said Julio Benedetti, the President of the Panama Mining Chamber. It's really it's the responsibility of the miners and their credibility with investors, as the most important motive for realizing the extraction of metals in Panama in a manner that avoids pollution, contamination, and major scandals, said Ernest Mast, the President of Minera Panama.

Common Panamanians, meanwhile, wonder what they will gain with all of this struggle over mining by experts from both camps, while on a map of Panama it seems that half of the country will be taken over by mining interests. What's more, mining concessions have already been granted for 35,187 hectares through contracts granted by the state, representing 2% of the national territory. From the mining business in Panama, citizens will receive 2% of the value of the minerals extracted, in the case of Minera Panama, which according to Mast will represent about $80 million dollars per year from 2015 through 2057, the dates of the concession granted to the company to extract minerals from 13,600 hectares. There are also payments to Social Security and other taxes for their employees; this project will generate more than 5,000 temporary (during construction) and 1,500 permanent positions.

In this regard, Banfield think the country is being given away in exchange for jobs and minimal profits when pollution cause by substances related to the mining would have irreparable environmental costs.

Mast says in his more than 20 years of experience working in the mining industry, paying 2% to the state is appropriate. "They should know the company runs a risk if the price of copper falls, and in the same way the company's initial investment is at risk; in the case of Minera Panama the investment is more than $4 billion dollars to extract 300,000 tons of copper annually," he said. Mining Industry sources explained that for every dollar produced by gold and copper mining companies, about 30% is profit and the rest is spent on operating costs and social projects. (Source - Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Economic no-brainer. Minera Panama is going to invest more than $4 billion dollars to bring this copper mine online. That's Foreign Direct Investment - the best kind of money for any national economy. Once the mine is operating the government Panama will receive direct payments to the tune of 2% on every dollar pulled out of the ground. Indirectly, the mining company will also be spending a whole lot of money in the country to operate the mine - buying everything from electricity to gas and fuel, paying employees, supplies, you name it. The company will make money, and then spend that money right here to keep the mine running. If they manage to take 30% away as profit, then (in effect) the remaining 70% stays in Panama, one way of the other, as the cost of doing business. This is a great deal for Panama, no matter how you slice it. And, oh yeah, we have to take care of the water and the birds and the critters and the trees and the bugs and the spotted fruit flies and the whatever the hell else is out there. Once all of the copper has been taken out of the ground, backfill it all and wait 30 seconds for the jungle to come right back in and reclaim the whole area. Mining can be done in an environmentally responsible manner, and the potential for damage can be mitigated.

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