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The Romanian Academy expresses its arguments against the mine proposal

September 6, 2011

The Romanian Academy has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the gold mining project proposed by a Canadian company in Rosia Montana.

Here is a broad outline of the Academy’s statement, as it was expressed in February 2006:

1. not a solution for sustainable development
2. would imply the destruction of the Rosia Montana community
3. the economic benefits for Romania are insignificant
4. forced relocation risks to engage the Romanian state in difficult legal positions
5. environmental consequences
6. the proposed dam, made of waste rock, does not guarantee to withstand extreme conditions
7. the proposal endangers the archaeological area of Alburnus Maior, which is unique in the world and of great cultural and historical value
8. use of cyanide
9. no guarantees regarding rehabilitation
10. the proposal violates a series of conventions and norms stipulated by European legislation
11. There are significant fears of illegalities already committed during the preparatory stages of the mine
12. Romanian civil society strongly opposes the proposal

And here is the whole statement:

STATEMENT BY THE ROMANIAN ACADEMY REGARDING THE ROSIA MONTANA MINE PROPOSAL

Romania’s mainstream media has recently been invaded by advertisements showing that a mysterious ‘Gabriel’ has ‘solutions’ for solving Rosia Montana’s historic pollution and is promising vast benefits from exploiting the gold “underneath the earth”. The publicity aims to convince public opinion about the benefits of the Rosia Montana gold mine proposal. The Romanian Academy has already expressed its position regarding this project. However, it now sees the necessity to reaffirm it; expressing again and this with the same resoluteness its arguments against the mine proposal. The Romanian Academy wishes to prevent a wrong decision, which would have negative effects on Rosia Montana’s community, its environment and its archeological vestiges. The Romanian Academy is again signaling the risky consequences for the Romanian State.
An objective analysis shows that the gold mine proposal is not in the public interest and as such the collateral negative effects as well as the risks involved are not justified.

We are reminding that:

1. The gold mine’s proposed mine life of 17 to 20 years is not a solution for sustainable development and does not solve the area’s social and economic problems. They would even be amplified after mine closure. The number of jobs estimated during the operational period of the mine is less than 500. This does not solve the local need for jobs and is even less than the number of jobs at the current state-owned exploitation (ca. 750). The area needs long-term economic solutions based on renewable resources and in accordance with the types of investments encouraged in the European Union.

2. The destruction of the Rosia Montana community – with a history of well over 2000 years – by resettling the population, demolishing houses (including historical monuments) and churches as well as resettling cemeteries is unacceptable and is reminiscent of a period everybody thinks is over.

3. The economic benefits for the Romanian state (estimated at around 40 to 50 millions per annum) represented by a 2% royalty tax and other taxes are insignificant compared to the project’s consequences.

4. The forced relocation and resettlement of the population refusing to sell their properties, which is anticipated at Rosia Montana, risks to engage the Romanian state in difficult legal positions vis-à-vis international (European) institutions. This is likely to provoke consequences which may be difficult to anticipate now but need to be seriously analyzed by competent authorities.

5. Open cast mining at four open pits and the creation of a tailings pond held by a 180m high dam over the so-called Corna valley would seriously mutilate the landscape. The actual open cast copper mine at Rosia Poieni as well as other open cast exploitations in Romania clearly show the environmental consequences provoked by such operations.

6. The proposed dam, made of waste rock, does not guarantee to withstand extreme conditions. Case studies from all over the world show that this is where severe accidents occurred during mine operations. The presence of the tailings pond and dam in the immediate vicinity of Abrud represents a huge risk. There exists no guarantee that an accident can not occur. Holding accountable those responsible after an accident would not solve anything.

7. The proposed gold mine seriously endangers the archaeological area of Alburnus Maior, which is unique in the world and of great cultural and historical value. The destruction – even partial – of the antique Roman mine galleries is completely unacceptable in a country which honors its roots and past.

8. The use of sodium cyanide in the technological process and the discharges into the tailings pond which contain leftovers of cyanide (which are also potentially toxic) following the “neutralizing” process as well as heavy metals are of serious concern. The tailings’ toxicity remains a source of severe risks this even if the “neutralizing of cyanide” would employ modern technologies.

9. There are no guarantees that when the works are finished and the mine is closed the investor would cover the costs for environmental rehabilitation. Experience from other countries (i.e. USA) shows that the costs for environmental rehabilitation can not be covered by the financial guarantees deposited by the investors. The current global trend is to prevent pollution and not to try to rehabilitate the environment after it has been polluted by substances and materials harmful for human beings and the environment.

10. The mine proposal violates a series of conventions and norms stipulated by European legislation. Faced with similar proposals, other countries have been more cautious and have refrained from accepting the risks involved. Documents prove that in Germany such projects are even impossible to envisage. In Bulgaria and Armenia recent projects of this type have not been approved.

11. There are significant fears of illegalities already committed during the preparatory stages of the mine. Recent court decisions have confirmed some of these fears. The issuing of archeological discharges for surfaces larger than the ones effectively researched, the hasty change of Rosia Montana’s statute into an “industrial area” and thus impeding potential economic activities (such as rural and cultural tourism) are all serious law violations that need to be investigated.

The Romanian Academy considers that no one can ignore the numerous individual and collective protests from civil society, scientific, religious, cultural institutions from the country and abroad. One can not overlook the resistance and the grievances expressed by parts of the local population who are directly affected by this project and at risk of loosing their properties and having to abandon their community.

The Romanian Academy is calling all competent authorities (Presidential administration, Parliament, Government, Justice) to carefully analyze the mine proposal; to involve non-biased specialists from the country, abroad and specialized European institutions before approving such extremely controversial and dangerous project. The Romanian Academy is simply trying to prevent an environmental and cultural disaster that would propel unacceptable consequences.


27th February 2006

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