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Sunday, July 22 2018 @ 09:43 PM EDT

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Inmet to Sell $1 Billion Bonds to Fund Panama Copper Mine

Gold & MiningBy Michelle Yun - Inmet Mining Corp., the developer of the $6.2 billion Cobre Panama copper mine, plans to sell $1 billion of bonds to help fund the operation instead of selling a stake in the project. The senior unsecured notes will mature in 2020, the Toronto-based company said in a statement. Inmet owns 80 percent of the mine and the balance is held by Korea Panama Mining Corp., a venture between LS-Nikko Copper Inc. and Korea Resources Corp.

Inmet Chief Executive Officer Jochen Tilk said in March 2011 the company would reduce its equity stake in the project as it sought financing alternatives. Since then, the risk of building the mine, which is 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Panama City, has decreased and Inmet’s capability to fund it has increased significantly, the company said in the statement. “Cobre Panama is a massive project that will take four years to build and could face capex, regulatory and environmental challenges over that time,” Greg Barnes, a Toronto-based analyst at TD Newcrest, said in a note. Barnes cut his recommendation on the shares from buy to hold. Inmet fell 8 percent to C$46.25 at the close in Toronto, the biggest decline since March 5. Inmet has dropped 29 percent this year.

Korea Panama has committed $1.4 billion to the project and Inmet will pay the balance, Inmet said. The mine will produce 266,000 tons of copper and 87,000 ounces of gold annually, it said. Cobre Panama will run for 31 years based on current reserves and first ore will be processed in the last quarter of 2015 with the first shipment in early 2016. “We’re not precluding the sale of an additional minority stake in the project as we believe that project becomes increasingly more attractive as construction progresses,” Tilk said on a conference call.

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Inmet completes Basic Engineering for Cobre Panama Project

Gold & MiningInmet Mining has announced the completion of basic engineering for the USD 6.2 billion Cobre Panama project. - Inmet Mining has announced the completion of basic engineering for the Cobre Panama project and the launch of a financing plan to fully fund Inmet's 80 per cent share of the related development costs. The mine was expected to ship its first consignment of concentrate during the first quarter of 2016.

Toronto (ON), Canada – The Cobre Panama project, located in the Donoso District of Panama, is owned by Minera Panama (MPSA), an 80 per cent owned subsidiary of Inmet. Cobre Panama is one of the largest undeveloped copper porphyry deposits in the world. MPSA has completed the most important steps of permitting and Basic Engineering, and is now ready to start construction. Korea Panama Mining Corporation (KPMC), a consortium of LS-Nikko Copper and Korea Resources Corporation, owns 20 per cent of MPSA and is Inmet's partner in the project. Upon closing of the proposed offering of senior, unsecured notes described in a separate press release issued today, Inmet would authorize the issuance of a "Full Notice to Proceed" for major construction.

Jochen Tilk, Inmet's President and CEO said "Inmet has been involved in the development of Cobre Panama for the past 20 years. Since the early days, three separate areas of advancement have converged to strengthen our commitment: first, the deposit has grown substantially; secondly, the communities in the area have participated in and supported the development plans; and finally, Basic Engineering has presented a clear execution strategy. We have focused on the social and environmental commitments for this project as it is our priority to ensure the protection of these values. The results of Basic Engineering have demonstrated robust economics, and we are executing a solid financing plan that does not include issuing equity. The coming four years will be transformative for Inmet as we expect to grow significantly as a low cost copper producer."

Editor's Comment: The companies involved in this project will be investing more than $6.2 billion dollars to build the mine - more than the cost of expanding the Panama Canal. And most of that money will stay right here in Panama. Economically speaking, this is a great project for Panama.

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SENAN Confiscated Gold Miner's Equipment

Gold & MiningMore than 50 amateur miners complained to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Colon about the confiscation of their equipment by agents of the National Air Service (Senan). These are workers who are engaged in gold mining in the area of ​​Donoso, who came to ask the regional manager to help them because the Senan removed all their rudimentary equipment in an operation. Senan was apparently performing an operation in search of drug traffickers, and in the process they seized the equipment. Vernon Bens, leader of these miners, said have been working in a natural manner without using chemicals in the area, and is not fair to take away their equipment. While Jesus Morales, of the Ministry of Commerce, said they have received the complaint and it has been elevated to the Department of Mineral Resources of the entity. (TVN)
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Panama's President Martinelli Endorses New Mining Law (Under the Radar)

Gold & Mining By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Yesterday afternoon Panama's president Ricardo Martinelli signed the controversial Bill 394 into law, creating Law 13 of 3 April 2012 - "Which reestablishes the effect of articles of the Code of Mineral Resources, and other dispositions." The law is somewhat technically detailed and it contains pricing and specifications for practically every detail of many different kinds of mining activity - for example if you want to extract river gravel from state lands you have to pay the government 50 cents per cubic meter, as specified in this new law. While those minor details might be important to small and local mining operations in Panama, the "real" money is in gold, copper, and foreign direct investment.

Champagne Corks Popping Last Night: Most importantly, with Law 13 of 3 April 2012 in Panama on mining, now the "big" and economically significant projects such as the Inmet copper project can go forward on much more solid legal footing. The recent "Indian" wars with the protesting Ngabe-Bugle indigenous peoples had to be taken care of with another law that made it illegal to mine in their region. So those issues and conflicts were addressed first (separately) and now this new law has been signed and sort of slipped in quietly, under the radar. A friend and long time Panama Guide reader who monitors the mining investor's nets gave me the heads up that this appeared in the Gaceta Oficial yesterday. You can click on the link to see the signed document, in Spanish. I'm not going to bother to translate it now. The government knows this is a somewhat controversial issue (still) and I think it's funny that they sort of slipped that one in there. I'll be looking for any sign of a clue in the local newspapers, but I think they all missed it as well. The guys who invest in the gold and copper mining stocks in Panama caught it because they watch this stuff like hawks - they have a vested interest so they pay strict attention to anything that might impact stock prices. And obviously this kind of a development (the new law being approved and endorsed by the president) will probably have an impact on stock prices at some point in time.

Good News For Panama: So, there you go. I see this as very good news, exceptionally good news, for Panama's economy. Now the billions of dollars in Foreign Direct Investment that's going to be spent to build the Inmet copper mine can start flowing in. And I'd like to be the first to say 안녕하세요, 제 한국 친구. 파나마에 오신 것을 환영합니다.

Copyright 2012 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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Panning For Gold In Panama For Fun and Profit

Gold & Mining
Panning For Gold
Panning For Gold
By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this afternoon via email: "Don, Thanks for providing a service for all of us in the english speaking community. It helps us keep up to date on what is going on out there in the community. Since you are always reporting on all these mining issues on your website and are always updating on what is going on with Petaquilla. I was wondering if you knew anything about gold prospesting in Panama since you seem to have a keen interest with gold in Panama. I have been unable to find anything on the internet related to the questions below. You here of the local Kuna's prospecting for gold in the rivers of Panama and was wondering if it is OK for foreigners to participate in this hobby. Do you know if you need to get a prospecting license and if so where can you get one? Have you heard of problems with the locals or with police from people who have been prospecting in Panama. I apologize for the questions at hand as I know that you get some real "out there questions" and I hope this is not one of them. If you can help me out with some info or where to get some info it would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Richard."

Editor's Comment: I've often wondered the same thing myself. To be honest with you, I have no friggin' idea. Back when the US military bases were still here the Outdoor Recreation office would put together these "gold panning" day trips to the interior. They would load about 20 or 30 people into a bus, take them up into the mountains somewhere, and spend the day panning for gold. Now, I never went on that particular trip so I don't know exactly where they were going. And I have heard news reports about locals who engage in gold panning along the rivers, mostly when they get shot or killed or robbed by people who want to steal their gold. I don't know if it's even regulated. There's obviously "gold up in them hills" and it rains a whole lot in Panama, so obviously over the thousands of years, gold has been washed down into the streams and rivers. But as a hobby, I simply don't know. If it were me I would start by trying to find some locals who are doing it somewhere. If you just wanted to screw around as an interesting hobby, and not get serious or try to "stake a claim" or whatever, then they would probably be willing to entertain your presence, at least for awhile. And, they would be able to tell you the details of what you can do, what you can't do, and what will get you killed. Good luck, and happy hunting.

Copyright 2012 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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Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry Defends Bill 394 (Foreign Participation in Mining)

Gold & Mining
Ricardo Quijano - Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry
Ricardo Quijano - Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry
Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, responded to the criticisms that have been made against Bill 394 that restores provisions of the Code of Mineral Resources, which was approved last night on the second reading by the National Assembly. In the session, opposition lawmakers charged that the standard will allow the participation of foreign States through legal entities or private companies in mining projects. In this regard, Quijano said it is thought foreign states will be the landowners and that is not the case. "Here there is no property, but rather concessions," said the official on Telemetro Reports.

According to Quijano, Bill 394 seeks to allow foreign countries, through private equity groups, to play a role in this activity. He said this occurs not only in Panama but in other parts of the world as well. The official explained this occurs "because normally they are minority shareholding amounts" and because "they help the multi-million dollar investments these companies have to do." The minister said in the case of Minera Panama, according to what is stated in the norms, they will be making an investment that might be as much as $5 billion dollars over the next five years. This will be done through its equity groups, he added. However, Quijano said that does not mean these other private companies (shareholders) dictate guidelines or own the property.

Last night, the opposition lawmaker Jorge Alberto Rosas from the Molirena political party reported that what is being proposed by the Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Raul Hernandez is basically the same as Law 8 which was repealed last year, in that it facilitates foreign state investment in mining in the country. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The National Assembly will be passing this law (and, it will pass) so that the government of Korea can legally participate in the Minera Panama mining project. And, Quijano is right. These investors are going to be pouring more than $5 billion dollars worth of new foreign direct investment into the country, just to build the infrastructure required to operate the mine. They are willing to make this investment because there's a whole lot of copper (as well as gold, silver, and molybdenum) up there in them hills. Those minerals are worth billions upon billions of dollars. Panama will make money when the infrastructure is built, when the mine is being operated, and on royalties for every pound of copper or ounce of gold that's sold. On the math, this is a great (wonderful, fantastic) project for Panama. And yes, a few trees will have to die. Did you know that for every hectare of trees the company cuts down, they will be planting two to replace them?

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Martinelli Signed Law Prohibiting Mining In Ngabe Bugle Region

Gold & MiningThe Government reported on Monday, March 26 that the law which establishes a special regime for the protection of mineral resources, water and environmental issues in the Ngobe Bugle region today received the sanction of the President, Ricardo Martinelli, and thus it is ready to enter into force after its promulgation. This is the "Law 11 of March 26, 2012," which brings together the consensus of the Indigenous Coordinator and the Government in a dialogue that was maintained for several weeks (amid protests by the Ngöbe), and which took this document to the National Assembly, which was passed in the third and final debate on Thursday, 22 March 2012. The Secretary of State said through a press law that the document, signed by President Martinelli, was also signed by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ricardo Quijano. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: And, there you go. It is now illegal to conduct mining activities in the Ngabe Bugle region. I hope they're happy. They are dirt poor, and literally sitting on top of billions of dollars of mineral resources, and it's now illegal to pull them out of the ground. Sure, that makes perfect sense to me. Go back to your grass shack now, and stare at your malnourished infant. Go, friggin', figure... I hope the environmentalists are happy.

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National Assembly Passes Law 415 in Third And Final Debate

Gold & MiningThe full National Assembly adopted unanimously this afternoon Bill 415 that creates a special regime in mining, water and environment for the Ngobe Bugle. Thus closes the issue of mining and the issue of hydropower, said Government Minister, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega. The balance was 3 deaths, injuries and allegations of violations of indigenous protesters, following clashes on Sunday February 5 when the riot control police reopened the Pan American Highway at various points where there were clashes with the Ngöbe.

The Coordinating Committee for the Protection of Natural Resources and the Rights of the Ngobe Bugle People, chaired by Rogelio Montezuma, expressed his pleasure from the full Legislature. Similarly, the General Cacica Ngobe Bugle, Silvia Carrera, apologized for the street closures and demonstrations. Carrera asked the Minister of Government to send a message to President Martinelli to "be more consultative and not impose the law."

Deputy Gabriel Mendez, Democratic Change, said they approved Bill 415, "making sure it did not suffer any changes during the process." (Estrella)

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Inmet Mining Releases First Resource Estimate on Balboa Discovery at Cobre Panama

Gold & MiningInmet Mining Corporation (Inmet) is pleased to announce an initial independent resource estimate and recent drill results for the Balboa copper-gold porphyry discovery originally announced March 8, 2011. The deposit is located on the Cobre Panama property in central Panama and is owned by Minera Panama S.A. (MPSA).

The addition of the Balboa resource increases Cobre Panama's total contained copper in the Measured and Indicated categories by 19% or 4.8 billion pounds to 30.6 billion pounds. Measured and Indicated contained gold increased by 29% or 1.9 million ounces to 8.4 million ounces. In the Inferred category contained copper increases by 13% or 2.1 billion pounds to 18.7 billion pounds. Gold Inferred resources increased by 20% or 0.8 million ounces to 4.8 million ounces. With this addition Cobre Panama further establishes itself one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold porphyry systems. While average copper grades at Balboa are similar to the resource grades for the other Cobre Panama deposits, the gold grades are 50% higher than the average resource grades.

Editor's Comment: The bottom line is that with these results now the Inmet copper mine will produce even more than originally expected. When the government of Panama sees this kind of stuff, they think "who needs Cerro Colorado?" And the indigenous Ngabe-Bugle Indians are pissed because they are not going to have anything to do with this mine. (End Comment) (Press Release continues below.)

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Petaquilla Minerals - PDI Panama Update on Metso Crusher

Gold & MiningPetaquilla Minerals Ltd. is pleased to announce that the Company's infrastructure subsidiary, Panama Desarrollo de Infraestructuras, S.A. ("PDI Panama") has successfully installed its new Metso Crusher 125 mobile crushing system and has been ramping up production. During the last three weeks, the new mobile crushing system, composed of a Nordberg NW 125, a GP300S cone, a NW300HPS cone and a DF2016P screen, was installed under the supervision of and commissioned by Metso's distributor in Panama.

As previously announced, the new Metso Crusher 125 increases PDI Panama's crushing capacity by approximately 10,000 tonnes per day, providing greater flexibility to ore processing and increasing the portfolio of construction-grade aggregate products that can be produced. This additional crushing capacity will help reduce the stacking period of the Company's on/off leach pads and support the expansion of the Molejon gold plant with a fourth ball mill. The Company plans to continue to increase crushing capacity by acquiring a second Metso Crusher 125.

PDI Panama is also advancing its plans to produce concrete, taking advantage of easy access to small size construction aggregate at Molejon. (Press Release)

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"Please Explain How Mining and Hydroelectric Projects Help Panamanians"

Gold & Mining By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The following was received this morning as a comment to an earlier article - but I though it was worth hauling out to "prime time" as an opportunity to address some of the more salient points regarding mining and hydroelectric projects in Panama. "Why should the Indigenous want mining or hydroelectric in Panama? Why should anyone except of course those politicos and foreign corporation who benefit? How much electricity is sent up to Mexico and the US. Why should those who live here suffer the environmental degradation with little benefit and much harm? The Ngobe live on dirt floors, cook inside on wood campfires, and walk almost everywhere they go because they have little infrastructure. I do not see any offers of electrification of their homes or help with community water systems, much less roads, or telephone - television signals. I do not see the Environmentalists as exploiting the Indigenous, but instead, I see them supporting them and every other Panamanian citizen not in the very richest strata of the country. Please explain how these projects would benefit the Panamanian citizenry?"

Editor's Comment: OK, I'll take these points one at a time:

How Does Mining Benefit Panama? One word - money. Mining generates a whole lot of new economic activity and all of it is excellent, wonderful news for Panama. There are several primary revenue streams;

    Initial Infrastructure Build: It will cost about $4.3 billion dollars just to build the mine. Let me state that another way. The mining company will be investing more than $4.3 billion dollars in Panama before they make a dime. Much of this money will be spent right here in Panama in the form of manpower and labor, contracts, services, fuel, logistics, etc. Some of the money will be spent elsewhere because Panama does not produce the heavy industrial machinery necessary to run a massive open pit copper mine. But no mater - the "build up" will generate a whole lot of new spending of the best kind of money for any country - Foreign Direct Investment. Other companies will be spending their money to build a new industry in Panama. Excellent, wonderful news.

    Money Generate By The Operation Of The Mine: Once the mine is built and running, the mining companies will have to spend money to keep it running. A whole lot of money - like more than $500 million per year. And again, much of that will be spent on worker's salaries, fuel, logistics, contracting, support, services, etc. So now the mine is producing and selling the minerals. They spend a percentage of the money from the international sales of those minerals as operating expenses. A large percentage of the money stays right here in the local Panamanian economy.

    Billions In Royalties: The Inmet copper mine project will be generating literally billions of dollars for the Republic of Panama in the form of royalties that will be paid directly to the treasury in the form of royalties generated from the international sale of minerals. Four primary minerals will be extracted from the Inmet mine - copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum. But for now I'm only going to talk about the copper. About 26 billion pounds of copper will be extracted from the mine in total. At today's copper prices, the copper will be worth about $100 billion dollars on the market. The Republic of Panama will receive 7% royalties on every pound of copper sold - so there's $7 billion dollars just for starters, in royalties alone, and only on the copper. There will also be some 6.3 million ounces of gold, as well as a whole lot of silver and molybdenum, which will also generate royalty payments when mined and sold. This mine is going to be generating a whole lot of new revenue for the government of Panama. The government of Panama - whoever happens to be in charge at the time - will be able to spend that money as they see fit - on new roads, electrification, expansion of the potable water distribution system, schools, hospitals, health clinics, or whatever other kind of infrastructure upgrades or improvements they deem necessary.

Environmental Impacts and Mitigation: Many people are knee-jerk anti mining, mostly on environmental issues. Personally I tend to be in favor of the further development of the mining industry in Panama as long as it's done in a responsible manner, with proper oversight and with applications of techniques to mitigate the environmental impact. The anti-mining environmentalists tend to point to the worst examples of poor management and mines done badly. And, while I personally am in favor of mining on the money side of the equation, I most certainly do not support blatant criminal destruction of the environment. However there are many industries that are "ugly" on the surface. There's no such thing as a "pretty" open face copper mine. But have you ever seen the inside of a refinery? Taken a tour of a meat processing plant? You are protected from all kinds of "ugly" things every day, and most of the people who oppose mining do so using their laptop computers - which contain lots of copper - so therefore they are hypocrites. Anyway, my own personal bottom line revolves around the word "mitigation" - meaning you can find a way to do the mining while reducing or mitigating the environmental damage as much as possible. And, it's not impossible to do with modern techniques and practices.

The Value of Hydroelectric Projects: Panama has the lowest rates for electricity in all of Central America. Opposition politicians scream and complain about "higher costs of electricity" but in reality those costs would be much, much higher if it were not for the many hydroelectric projects in Panama. Panama does not export electricity, and in fact the expansion of the production capability is just barely keeping pace with local (Panama) demand as the national economy continues to grow and expand.

Environmentalists Hurting The Ngobe People: There is a global environmental movement that does not want any mining, anywhere on the planet. The Ngobe are sitting on a massive copper deposit at Cerro Colorado - worth billions upon billions of dollars. They are quite literally sitting on a gold mine, however they simply do not have the ability to take advantage of that resource. Imagine if you had gold under the ground behind your house and you owned the mineral rights - but you're broke and starving. Does it make sense that some foreigner should come to your house and tell you that you should not take advantage of those resources - to protect the environment? Of course not. I would like to see the Ngobe people basically "get their shit together" and negotiate a separate deal that would benefit them for many generations. That would not only lift them out of poverty but make them relatively rich. Consider this - the Bedouins were extremely poor desert dwelling camel jockeys for thousands of years until the industrial revolution drove a need for oil - which they happened to be sitting on in the Arabian peninsula - and now they are billionaires. Go figure. Good thing the environmentalists care more about jungles than deserts, eh?

So, The Bottom Line: It all comes down to the money. If the government of Panama has more money from taxes on industrial activities and royalties then they can spend it to do good things for the Panamanian people. The operation of the mines will help to further expand the economy, and create more jobs and business opportunities. Sitting on a gold (or copper) mine and not taking advantage of those mineral resources is just plain stupid. Sure, protect the environment, mitigate the damage, but damn man, don't be dumb. "No, you might need oil, but we like our desert sands the way they are. Oil wells are "ugly." We've been living like this for eight thousand years, and we're happy being this poor. Go away, and don't let the camel bite you on the ass on the way out..." Yeah, good call.

Copyright 2012 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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Indigenous People and Environmentalists Organize March in Boquete

Gold & Mining Boquete, Chiriqui. Environmentalists and indigenous people from the district of Boquete are organizing and preparing a march through the main streets of this region. The march will be in support of their colleagues in Panama - who are participating in the dialog over mining - so that the government hears them properly and meets their demands on this topic. The activity is scheduled for Sunday, 26 February 2012, at noon. The point of concentration will be the José Domingo Médica park in Boquete.

Ezequiel Miranda, president of the Association for the Conservation of the Biosphere, said the fight is not only for Cerro Colorado, but for all regions where there is the possibility of mining. "What we want is that the government does not grant more concessions, for Cerro Colorado not to be exploited, so that the environment is not affected, because we do not want to have more affectations, nor for the health of Panamanians to be the losers in this mining activity," he said.

Meanwhile, Cristian Carpintero, a spokesman for the Indians, said they are already organizing the march. "And the government knows there is a large group that is not fooled by anything or anyone," he said.

On Monday 27 February the dialog will be resumed over the amendments to the Code of Mineral Resources in the National Assembly, which adjourned for Carnival on 17 February. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: I love it when these guys pull down their pants, expose their ass, and finally tell the truth. The don't want any mining, anywhere in the country. This argument is not over Cerro Colorado or mining in the indigenous region, but rather the environmentalists are using and exploiting the Indians in an attempt to promote their larger agenda - they don't want any mining to occur, or hydro electric power facilities to be built, anywhere in the entire country, or the world for that matter. And unfortunately, the Indians are allowing themselves to be manipulated. It's simply sad.

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Government Hopes To Conclude Dialog With Ngäbes on Monday

Gold & MiningThe leadership of the Ngäbes and Buglés who are negotiating a special arrangement for its natural resources with the Government have asked that the dialog not extend beyond next Monday, which is consistent with the position of the government representatives. The leader of the Coordinating Committee for the Rights of the Ngäbe People, Alberto Montezuma, said this is the main petition they received during consultations held last week with their members. Given this request, Government Minister Jorge Ricardo Fabrega said in the dialogue they have reached agreements on 95% of the issues, so therefore he is confident that on Monday they will have reached a final consensus. "It would have been nice if we could have reached an agreement on the first day; we have confidence that on Monday we can reach an agreement," he said.

Meanwhile, Montezuma announced today that the leadership of the Coordinator will meet with the General Chieftain, Silvia Carrera, to evaluate consultations held with local leaders.

The Government is working to gather the information they will provide to the Indians so they can try to reach an agreement on the most contentious issues of these conversations. Fabrega confirmed that between yesterday and today they have been meeting with the company Genisa, which is building the Barro Blanco Hydroelectric Project, to provide the Ngäbes with the data they have requested. "We're going to have a conversation with the company, but if they are needed (in the talks) they will be, but the process is to finish making inquiries to see if we can have a firm response," he said.

Complicated - Although the intention of both parties is to end the talks on Monday, the negotiation process in sight is not seen as easy. On one hand, the Coordinator and the Chief are demanding that the construction of the hydroelectric dam on the Tabasará river be halted, and for the concession they have been granted to be reviewed. On the other hand, the Government reiterates that the project will not affect the region, since it only covers a small area of ​​an annexed area. "Barro Blanco is not in the region and its adjoining areas; only 6.8 hectares are affected by the flooding of the lake and in that area there are no settlements," said the Minister of Government. Representatives from the company Genisa warned they would sue the state if the work is suspended, as has been requested by the Indians. (Panama America)

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Indigenous Ngäbe Bugle Remain Vigilant - Talks Should Resume On Monday

Gold & MiningWhile thousands of people moved to various locations within the country for this year's carnival celebrations, the natives of the Ngäbe Bugle region remained vigilant. The group camping in the park near the 5th of May plaza reminded the Government that the talks should resume in the National Assembly on Monday, 27 February 2012. One of the leaders of the Coalition for the Defense of Natural Resources and the Rights of the Ngäbe Bugle People told TVN News that they "allowed" the carnival celebrations to take place in an act of good faith, but hope that next Monday there will be an agreement that is satisfactory for them.

The pending issue is on hydroelectric projects on lands of the Ngäbe Bugle region and in adjoining areas. The Indians reject any hydroelectric development in the region and demand the cancellation of the concession granted for the Barro Blanco project. It was precisely this issue of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project that prevented the debate from advancing, because the indigenous leaders maintain their position and they demand the cancellation of that concession, but Government Minister Jorge Ricardo Fabrega said this project is not located in areas annexed to the region.

On Friday, 17 February 2012, the members of the subcommittee who are discussing the controversial Article 5 of Bill 415 signed a statement to announce the progress made so far. They highlighted the consensus reached regarding the cancellation of all concessions granted for mining in the Ngäbe Bugle region and annexed areas, and the repealing of Law 41 of 1975, which created Codemin.

In terms of hydropower they have advanced on the following points:

1. In the future, and when necessary, any application or hydroelectric development project in the Bugle Ngäbe and adjoining areas shall comply with the formalities and go through the same agencies listed in Law 10 of 1997 and the Administrative Charter of the Comarca.

2. The Public Service Authority will issue a resolution through which they will reject the requests for the granting of concessions for the construction of the hydroelectric projects called: Caño Clarito and Chorcha, located inside of the Comarca.

3. As for hydropower projects in the annexed areas they have not yet reached a consensus, due to the legal, economic, ecological and social implications.

On Monday, 27 February 2012 at 10:00 am the dialog should resume in the Trade Commission of the National Assembly. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Stock up on supplies, especially those of you in Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro. The government is not going to back down on the issue of hydroelectric projects. They will keep talking, but sooner or later I suspect the Ngäbe Bugle will get up from the table and walk away. It would be wise to take advantage of this time to stock your shelves. Hey, they might reach an agreement, then your shelves will be stocked, and that's a good thing, right? Better safe than sorry.

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Discussion on Article 5 and Bill 415 Continue Today

Gold & Mining Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry Ricardo Quijano said on Friday, 17 February 2012, that the Government is not going end the dialog with the Coalition in Defence of Natural Resources and the Rights of the Ngäbe-Bugle People and Farmers in the National Assembly. "We will not stop the dialog, even if it takes a year," said Fabrega. The session will resume at 10:00 am today in the National Assembly.

The disagreement in the dialog last night was on the the point of the location of the Barro Blanco Hydroelectric Project. According to Quijano, the concession for this project was granted during the prior administration of Martin Torrijos, and it has met with all of the requirements, such as environmental impact studies. But the Indians have asked for this project to be cancelled and they say the project is located within an area that is "annexed" to the Ngobe-Bulge region. On this issue Quijano said "we as a government must respect the legal aspects of what was granted."

Quijano said he was confident that today, Friday, once the negotiations are restarted, that they will come to a close. However, if this does not happen, the minister suggested that the board continue its work after carnival. He said the National Assembly will be closed for the holidays. This means the Deputies from the National Assembly will not be there, nor will they be able to use the facilities in the National Assembly building to hold meeting, he said. The important thing is that "we can not continue with these differences," he said.

Quijano also referred to the request made by the National Council of Private Enterprise to attend these meetings in the National Assembly. The official explained that the subcommittee agreed that only the government and the representatives from the Coordinator would participate in order "to avoid pressure from other groups." However, Quijano explained that when the bill reaches the Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs the debate will be open to all relevant groups for public discussion. (Prensa).

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