Natural resources, energy and environment
Copper, gold, tropical woods and good fishing waters are some of Panama’s most important natural resources. Despite good mineral resources, mining has been limited, but mineral extraction is about to become an important element of the economy. However, strong resistance from the environmental movement and indigenous peoples put some sticks in the wheel.
Panama has two of the largest untouched copper reserves in the world and in both places there are also large gold resources. Gold began to be mined by a Canadian mining company in Petaquilla in 2010 and almost immediately became one of the country’s largest export goods. Copper extraction in the same area is under development. The mining project, Cobre Panamá, is expected to be the largest in Central America and, according to some estimates, in the long run contribute as much to the gross domestic product (GDP) as the Panama Canal.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Panama with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Strong resistance from the environmental movement and indigenous peoples has, in part, put spikes in the wheel of the investment plans. In 2011, President Martinelli passed legislation that would have increased opportunities for foreign investment in the mining industry, but the protests became so violent that the law was withdrawn. In early 2012, instead, laws were passed that severely limited the possibility of extracting minerals in the comarcan Ngöbe-Buglé, which constitutes close to a tenth of the country’s surface (see Political system).
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, PM stands for Panama. Visit itypeusa for more information about Panama.
Panama’s main sources of energy are imported oil-based fuel and domestic hydropower, while wood, charcoal and sugar cane waste contribute with smaller proportions. In recent years, major investments have been made in hydropower to reduce dependence on imported oil. Hydropower accounts for over half of electricity production. Oil reserves found in 2011 are expected to generate revenue in the future.
The most serious environmental problem is the deforestation. Together with pollution, it poses a major threat to the country’s environment and the rich animal and plant life. Through its unique location, Panama provides a land bridge for species on two continents; here, for example, twice as many species of migratory birds pass through the whole of Europe. In an effort to protect the environment, increasingly large areas have been set aside as national parks or nature reserves. Today, they cover about a quarter of the country’s area. In early 2015, a law on nature conservation was adopted for an 85,000-acre area in the bay outside Panama City, wetlands that are considered to be of crucial importance for migratory birds. During Martinelli’s government (2009–2014), construction projects were planned in the sensitive area. The new law stops construction, but also forest logging, land use and other things that can affect the mangrove swamp.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
1,089 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
2082 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
8 801 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
2.3 tons (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
21.2 percent (2015)