(Photo source) And so... it's happened at last! After the long and heated debates within the closed doors of parliament and three months of widespread protests throughout the country and abroad, the amended mining law which would have enabled Gabriel Resources to proceed with plans to build Europe's largest open-cast gold mine was rejected this morning by the Romanian parliament with 160 votes in favour, 105 against and 22 abstaining. Under Romanian law, in order for it to have been adopted it would have needed at least half plus one of all MPs' votes, ie. 204. So, lack of quorum - it's a NU!!
Gabriel, who has been waiting for more than 14 years to get its grubby mitts on 314 tons of gold and 1,500 tons of silver at Rosia Montana must be spitting feathers. Good. I hope they choke on them. This latest news from Romania is just one of many hitches concerning the project that have been mud in the eye of the multinational giant (I'd prefer a skewer, but hey). Only last week, RMGC hit the headlines due to investigations by Romania into alleged money laundering and tax evasion. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.
At the end of last week, a group of environmentalists sent an open letter to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister and members of parliament demanding the immediate introduction of legislation to make local firms, especially mining industry corporations, accountable for proposed projects and current operations abroad. The group has also requested that Ottawa withdraw its support for Gabriel Resources' projects.
Huge crowds demonstrated outside the Parliament building in Bucharest this morning, chanting "Save Rosia Montana!" and demanding that MPs reject the mining changes giving way to a bill even more awful than the last, before occupying the Ombudsman's office. Several hundreds also protested in Cluj blocking access to the local HQ of political parties. For once, their demands were heard.
Gabriel, which is backed by American billionaire John Paulson and the Israeli Benny Steinmetz Group, is yet to comment as far as I know. I expect they're gobsmacked that Romania, a poor little country filled with ignorant peasants, would DARE cock up their plans.
"For over 16 years, we have been telling the shareholders of Gabriel Resources that their mine is both illegal and unwanted. Today's decision confirms this once again, and it also underlines the united determination of the Romanian people. Together, we will continue to ensure that law and order becomes the norm so that we may build a future for Romania. We may seem poor and irrelevant to Gabriel Resources, but there are some people and some things that are not for sale. Rosia Montana is, was, and never will be for sale," said Eugen David, the president of Alburnus Maior.
As a result, Gabriel's share prices started to fall on the Toronto Stock Exchange after news broke this afternoon (hee! hee!). At 17h49 (22h35 Canada), shares were going for $0.91, down 21% from the closing price last night ($1.15). This is not the most dramatic drop Gabriel's shares have seen. Remember early September, when they dropped 70% after the Rosia Montana bill failed in Parliament? May they keep falling - nothing like a little smug schadenfreude at times like this.
"The government could choose to approve a new bill for the gold mine, or parliament could draft new legislation at a later date, but for now the proposed gold mine is on hold," reports Reuters.
Excellent news for the people of Romania, and for all of us beyond her borders! BRAVOOOOOO!!!!! WHAT a sigh of immense and marvellous relief.
(Photo source) It hasn't all been good news and cries of 'hurrah!' when it comes to MPs' voting choices today. A series of changes to the Penal Code have been adopted that will boost parliamentarians immunity in cases of corruption charges from all DNA prosecutors' investigations. Was that the price one had to pay for the mining law to be rejected, I wonder? We must pay for clean air, water, mountains and beauty by turning a blind eye to the underhanded and low-life dirty dealings of those on Mount Olympescu? If the Constitutional Court accepts this bill in its present form, then Adrian Năstase (currently serving 3 years for corruption), Dan Voiculescu (5 years for the 'ICA' affair), Cătălin Voicu (7 years for bribery, intimidation and extortion), Decebal Traian Remeş (3 years for the 'Caltaboşul' affair and influence peddling), Relu Fenechiu (serving 5 years for his part in the 'Transformator' affair and 46 corruption-related offenses), Codruţ Şereş (indicted to 6 years for treason and organised crime), Liviu Dragnea (referendum fraud), Adrian Severin (a Europarliamentarian due 6 years for taking bribes) and Ioan Avram Mureşan (condemned to 7 years for money laundering and abuse of office) will all be pardonned. Justice? Where? The impact on pending corruption cases is truly overwhelming. What a banana republic...
The bill passed with 240 votes (PSD: 122; PNL: 73; UDMR: 15; independents: 15; PC: 11; unaffiliated: 4 - see the named and shamed 'yes' voters HERE). Only 57 MPs had the bijoux de famille and the conscience to vote "against" (32 PDL, 22 PPDD, one PC and two unaffiliated) - a VERY popular measure, it would appear. Go figure, seeing the percentage of 'cases pending' for Romanian politicians. Unbelievable. But not very. This will have a devastating effect on the functioning of the DNA. In short, so-called 'lawmakers' will be protected from any investigation by the DNA for crimes of abuse of office, nepotism, or bribery committed in connection with their duties. Read the DNA's reaction HERE (in Romanian).
The vote, which prompted media to label it "The Black Tuesday" of Romanian democracy, sparked strong reactions from Western embassies and international institutions. "This move by the Parliament is a step away from transparency and rule-of-law and is a discouraging sign for investors", the US Embassy told Bucharest in one of its harshest stances on Romanian events for years.
Only two hurdles remain until the changes to the Penal Code can take effect: the Presidency and the Constitutional Court. President Basescu has said that what happened on 'Black Tuesday' is reason to dissolve Parliament, and if the amendments pass, the sanctions Romania would likely risk for breach of Copenhagen criteria would be suspension of voting rights in the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament. Yup. That, and more. Investments would rapidly plunge to a nice fat zero as the country would be seen as utterly untrustworthy, and EU funds would be no more. That last possibility, I'm sure, would hurt the most.
(Photo source) Do you think that means Gigi will be home to hang up his Christmas stocking, then? He is serving time for something he shouldn't be and isn't serving time for something he should. Does that make sense? Clear as mud. Asta este. Long live Romanian justice.
Tomorrow the decentralisation bill will be debated in the Constitutional Courts. If that ever passes, patrimony is stuffed (for want of a better word).
And so, a day of good news and bad news. A day of justice and the complete opposite. A 'Romanian' sort of day, all things considered. But tonight, I shall pop a cork for Rosia Montana, and grieve for the injustice part tomorrow...