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Cyanide gravely damages ministerial integrity (Press Release)

February 26, 2012

On Thursday, 23 February, Romanian National Television hosted a special edition of the show “Judge it for yourself!” dedicated to Roşia Montană.

Representatives of the Save Roşia Montană Campaign who were invited to take part at the televised debate have met once more with the state authorities. Authorities who are badly documented when dealing with Roşia Montană and the mining project’s impact on the region, who are superficial in handling this matter of national interest and, above all, who are treating with defiance the local people of Roşia Montană, Romanian citizens who want their lawful rights to be respected. And all this while the authority representatives invited to the show, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Culture, are those in charge of deciding the fate of Roşia Montană.

In the absence of the Minister of Culture, Mr. Kelemen Hunor, the State Secretary of Culture, Mr. Vasile Timiș, took part at the show and publicly declared that the decision of the evaluation of the mining project proposed for Roşia Montană is a political one, and not a decision grounded on technical arguments regarding the protection of the cultural heritage of Roşia Montană. This declaration validates the alarm signals dispatched by the Save Roşia Montană Campaign, more specifically the fact that pressure is exerted in multiple means when it comes to evaluating the mining project – of which the political pressure is the only one to have been publicly admitted.

Only 12 hours after the end of the show “Judge it for yourself!” dedicated to Roşia Montană, Mr. Vasile Timiș resigned from the Ministry of Culture.

Furthermore, the cyanide accident that took place in Baia Mare in 20001 was amongst the most debated topics during the show. Also present at the show, the Secretary of State for Environment, Mr. Marin Anton, was unable to clearly formulate the position of the Ministry of Environment and consequently, that of the Romanian state, regarding the accident’s disastrous consequences. Mr. Anton was not able to provide any information regarding the cyanide spill, the responsibility of the environmental damage costs (100 million euro owed to Hungary) as well as the role of the Romanian state in holding the polluter liable. The superficial manner in which the environment authorities are treating the most serious accident of cyanide discharge in Europe raises lots of questions when it comes to the environmental risk assessment process of the mining project proposed at Roşia Montană.

Our concerns go even deeper as Marin Anton is also the head of the Technical Analysis Commission (CAT) of the Environment Ministry, playing an important role in the analysis of the environment impact study handed in by Roşia Montană Gold Corporation. During the show the professionalism of this commission has being questioned by the presentation of the extract of a minute written by the Ministry for the Environment during a filed visit to evaluate de mine’s location, dated 20 October 2010. According to the above document, “during the visit on the Cornea Valley we encountered isolated constructions that overlapped with the tailings management facility footprint”, and as far as the biodiversity is concerned, it mentions that “during the visit no wild species of wild fauna were encountered (probably because of the off-road vehicles), apart some remote presences (ex: squirrels…)”. This document fails to take into consideration the complex studies on the biodiversity of the Roşia Montană region, studies conducted by famous specialists2, but also the fact that on the Cornea Valley there are 261 households, two churches and three cemeteries.

The representative of the Ministry of Environment is also responsible for a serious act of public disinformation by affirming that “it was easy for Hungary to legally ban the use of cyanide in mining activities” as Hungary “does not have gold”. Mr. Marin Anton has accused Alburnus Maior’s representative of lying when he pointed out that there are mining firms that hold gold exploration licenses in Hungary. A quick look on the web page of Carpathian Gold3, one of the most important mining companies involved in gold exploration in Hungary, confirms that remarkable gold quantities have been explored on vast mineral exploration concessions in Hungary.

According to Eugen David, president of Alburnus Maior :“I took part at this televised debate hoping to talk with Minister Laszlo Borbely and Minister Kelemen Hunor. Since they are two official figures who eagerly want the project to take place, I am deeply dissatisfied because they did not come to the show personally. It’s just another example of the irresponsibility of the authorities in treating this subject. However, Mr. Timiș’ resignation came as no surprise to me, as he was sent there to fix some issues so that Mr. Kelemen Hunor would not get his reputation tainted”.

“It is very sad to see how state authorities, which should take a strictly legal and technical decision, are supporting the company that intends to destroy Roşia Montană, by defending this project more firmly and emotionally than the company itself”, added Ștefania Simion, legal consultant at Alburnus Maior.

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