(Photo: Sarah In Romania) Protests have erupted throughout Romania and across Europe with people flooding the streets in their THOUSANDS, triggered by the Romanian government's approval of a draft 'law' granting national interest status to the Canadian gold mine project aimed for Roşia Montană last Tuesday.
Roşia Montană Gold Corporation (RMGC), controlled by Canadian firm Gabriel Resources, plans an open-cast gold mine in the heart of Transylvania - a region praised by Prince Charles for its natural beauty and exceptional wildlife. The project’s opponents criticise the use of cyanide - 12,000 tons of it to be precise - that's 12 times higher than anything ever seen in European goldmining, which would have a devastating and irreversible impact on the region’s biodiversity. Four mountains surrounding the village would be destroyed in the process and Roman mining galleries unique in Europe would be damaged, archeologists and historians have warned on countless occasions. Alas, the Romanian government supports it, singing loudly of its economic value, and ironically, the ecological and cultural benefits for the region.
(Photo source) The new 'law' breaks legal and constitutional provisions for the protection of private property, cultural heritage protection, environmental protection, watersheds, forests, grasslands, public property, access to justice for citizens, free competition - enfin, bref, it is especially designed for a foreign private company - Gabriel Resources. Therefore, the government's proposed referendum is nothing more than a travesty. You cannot have a referendum on a law that is illegal. Not even in Romania.
This so-called 'law', writes Claudia Ciobanu for the Guardian, "would give Gabriel Resources extraordinary powers, including the right to conduct expropriations in Rosia Montana. The text mandates authorities to give the company all necessary permits for construction and exploration by set terms (15 days, 30 days, 60 days, etc) regardless of national legislation, court rulings or public participation requirements. If the parliament approves this law (a vote could take place as early as this month), Romanian citizens will no longer have a say over Rosia Montana. Outrage was compounded by the fact that, while in opposition, Ponta's Social Democrats had declared themselves against the project. This turnabout reinforced the perception that the political class is corrupted and unworthy of trust."
(Photo source) Contrary to the Romanian government’s continual lament of poverty at Roşia Montană, the region is NOT drowning in inescapable misery. It is in fact systematically impoverished by government industrial policy which declared the region a mono-industrial mining area. A state-owned mine existed in the same location which closed in 2006 before Romania’s accession to the EU. This tunnel-visioned economic view prevents alternative types of development. Instead of a mine, Roşia Montană could very easily be a superb site for eco-tourism, a culture centre, small businesses, agriculture....
THIS site reports: "Re-opening the mine will do little for Romania’s long term economic development. As is the case with many foreign-owned resource extraction projects, Gabriel Resources owns 80% of the project, leaving the Romanian government with only 20%. After extracting 800-4,000 tons of gold, over 2,300 tons of silver, over 300 tons of uranium and numerous rare minerals, the Romanian state will obtain almost nothing – apart from a lengthy cleanup."
Yes, a lengthy cleanup plus the toxic poisoning, cancers, leukaemias, birth defects, destroyed ecological balance and loss of one of the most beautiful regions in the country. Fantastic.
(Photo source) As for the $4 billion the Romanian state is supposed to make in royalties from the mine, Luke Dale-Harris writing for The Spiegel has this to say: "At the end of 2011, the original contract signed between the government and Gabriel resources, until then a state secret, was leaked online. It showed that the state would get just 2.2% of the royalties from the mine. According to calculations done by the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, after the environmental cleanup costs and the repayment of loans taken out by Minivest from Gabriel Resources' purse, the project would generate nowhere near the $4 billion claimed by RMGC, but instead bring "nothing to the region but a long term sentence to poverty." So much for that. Utter, wide-spread destruction, and for what?
For those of you thinking that recent advances in gold extraction techniques have made progress, Luke Dale-Harris writes: "Though the use of cyanide in gold extraction has been around for well over a hundred years and has always been controversial, recent advances in the technique are widely believed to have made it safe - both to the mine operators and the surrounding environment. The methods to be used at Rosia Montana, however, hark back to techniques widely discarded today. According to Victor Bostinaru, a member of the European Parliament and a central figure in the opposition to the mine, "Rosia Montana poses a very alarming risk for contamination. Compared to the modern gold mines of Scandinavia, this seems like a 19th century colonial operation. There is no guarantee that it will not cause severe damage."
(Photo source) So, to recap in case it's all a bit of a fog: What are the Romanian people getting from this abominabe project? a) Jobs? Very few and not for long; b) Economic benefits? Negative; c) Cultural benefits, then? Nope. But d) they WILL get the afore-mentioned toxic poisoning, cancers, leukaemias, birth defects, destroyed ecological balance and the loss of one of the most beautiful regions in the country.
For more details on RMGC, please see THIS link.
(Photo source) It is common knowledge that RMGC has one of the dirtiest PR campaigns in Europe for media manipulation and let's not forget something we have known for a long time: the press is bought/paid in US$ by RMGC. The horrifying thing is the alarming number of gullible people who actually believe the rubbish both said and printed. As for the piffle about the project creating jobs, "the jobs created are around 300 for about 15 years," DG Reggio (EU) dixit. So what is Romania getting apart from a lot of cyanide? The investors will re-patriate all the profit and the refining will take place in countries with a cheaper labour force, such as the Ukraine.... So, in short, I repeat, Romania will get nothing.
NOTHING - in terms of profit and gain, that is.
Please reread THIS post and follow the links should you have any questions about the effects of cyanide and mercury used in gold extraction - oh, and watch the video of the poisonous extraction in Peru, too, carried out by Newmont Mining who controls Gabriel Resources...
Have people really forgotten the terrible accident in Baia Mare in 2000 so quickly? Cyanide was spilled into the Somes River near Baia Mare by the gold-mining company Aurul, a joint-venture of the Australian company Esmeralda Exploration and the Romanian government. The polluted waters eventually reached the Tisza and then the Danube, killing large numbers of fish in both Hungary and Yugoslavia. The spill has been called the worst environmental disaster in Europe since Tchernobyl. Didn't that bring home the dangers of the cyanide leaching of gold?
(Photo source) Everybody knows - politicians, investors, scientists, physicians - the dangers of cyanide and mercury. There is little point even discussing it for it is a fact, a proven fact, repeated again and again by experts - one with more impressive credentials than the last. What we should be discussing is how it ever came to pass that money meant more than lives, than culture, than civilisation. We should be discussing how the Romanian government could ever sell the health and future of its people down the river for personal gain. We should be discussing how it ever came to this in an EU country (soit-disant) in 2013.
There is NO question of the fatalities and suffering this project will bring to ecology not to mention on a human scale.
(Photo source) There has been no shortage of scandals of course, as you can well imagine. Luke Dale-Harris writes:
"The scandals started to come thick and fast. [In 2011] The contract giving RMGC ownership of mining rights had vanished off the face of the earth, throwing into question the legality of all the company's activities until now. President Traian Basescu was filmed in Rosia Montana calling Eugen David and other opponents to the mine "Bolsheviks" and advising them to sell their homes and leave town. But the media remained largely silent, with all but two Romanian newspapers continuing to plug the official line that the mine will bring nothing but good to the country."
"Democracy and human rights are not respected in Romania but we will fight", Eugen David, the president of Alburnus Maior, told AFP.
The mine is yet "another symbol of Romania selling out its economic interests for individual gain," Bostinaru told The Spiegel. "We need sustainable development to rebuild Romania's economy and, as it stands, Rosia Montana in no way offers that solution."
(Photo: Sarah In Romania) It must be stopped. This must end NOW. Not only for Roşia Montană but for Europe as a whole too, for the implications whether this goes ahead or not will claw its way far beyond Romania's borders. The Romans, the Austro-Hungarians and then the communists all plundered / profited from Romania's gold in one way or another. Now, it's RMGC. Once upon a time, these gold-hunters were called 'invaders'. Now they are termed 'investors'. Is this evolution? No. This time, it's pure and unadulterated corruption.
One good thing has come from this, however. Never before in post-communist Romania have people been so UNITED, so DETERMINED and so very, very INDIGNANT. They are saying NO to RMGC and the Romanian state, and they are not mincing their words.
The campaigners of Save Rosia Montana UK had this very poignant message in their superb letter addressed to Jonathon Henry, the president and CEO of RM Gold Services, delivered today :
"A man is worth more than gold. So is a country! We will not stop until your company ends its involvement with mining in Romania."