Peninsula Osa is not only the most biologically intense place on Earth, but also has wide-spread deposits of gold, platinum and other minerals – the product of volcanic actions millions of years ago.
During 2 years of dire poverty I survived by panning gold in our stream. I paddled upriver and traded the gold for supplies. It was damn hard work – standing in the cold water, digging down to bedrock, washing pans of material all day for a few grams. Occasionally, I’d find a nugget that allowed for a few luxuries.
There had been many gold mining operations on the Peninsula, but the government – in the interests of environmental protection – stopped issuing large-scale mining concessions. Still, there are many small-time miners working the streams with pans and shovels.
I saw a 16 pound nugget one time. Many years ago a gringo owned a mining operation across the Boca from me, on Isla Violin. One day, the front-end loader kicked out a little rock of gold. The worker jumped off the machine, rolled the rock into the bushes and went back to work. Later that night he snuck out of the dormitory, retrieved the gold rock and paddled away. He sold the nugget and had enough money to buy a lot and build a house and auto-repair business.
While panning and working our own stream, I ran into a vein of platinum. According to an assay done by the Ministerio de Minas, the concentration was .9 grams of platinum for every kg of material! But that’s a different story . . . .