Massive protests from Romania (against the government’s controversial decision to pave the way for a Canadian firm to build Europe’s largest opencast gold mine) forced the government in Bucharest to take steps to withdraw and those of Gabriel Resources Ltd. to request explanations from Romanian government.
Some 20,000 people, including students, eco-activists which claim a future environmental disaster, but also young parents with their children, rallied across the country on Sunday in the eighth day of protests against a draft law issued by the leftist government, which would allow a Canadian miner to dig for gold and silver in the small town of Rosia Montana in Transylvania, northern Romania. Romania’s prime minister says Monday that Parliament will not support a Canadian gold mine, after his partner of USL alliance, chief of Senat – upper house of Parliament, Crin Antonescu said that he will not support Rosia Montana project. Furthermore, the PM admitted that the draft law was sent to parliament because he wanted to avoid responsibility of the Government for the project.
Beyond abandoning the project stake of exploitation from Rosia Montana, the protests seem to have reminded the government that there is an important accumulation of social tensions and dissatisfaction on faulty governance of the country. More, Romanian Autumn, as was called by the journalists from CNN, it has restored Romanians confidence that citizenship is not just a fad idealists. An ”autumn of indignants”, a turning point in which new generations are starting to make itself heard. And the reaction of the authorities today, the way of they pass the responsibility from one to another, demonstrated that the present of protesters on street generated chills to a political class unable to offer effective alternatives.
Let’s take a closer look ! Arguments pro and contra…
Supporters of project say the mine would bring foreign investment and jobs. Fals ! Gabriel Resources Ltd (GR) plans to expand and modernize old Roman gold mines to extract over 300 tons of yellow metal and 1,500 tons of silver. According to Gabriel, the project will create around “2,300 temporar jobs in the construction phase and 900 in the operational phase.”
So, Gabriel Resources company will receives 300 tons of gold and 1,500 tons of silver for 900 jobs ? – any comment is useless…
Opponents of project say it would be too big an environmental risk. True ! There are two main risks associated with the process: the possibility of cyanide leaching into soil and groundwater at toxic concentrations, and catastrophic spills which may lead to flooding an ecosystem with toxic levels of cyanide. Across the world cyanide mining created eco-disasters. The process is invasive and harmful nature, no matter how trying the experts paid by companies in the area to the contrary. More, many Romanians fiercely oppose the project, because they still remembering the accident with cyanide spill near the town of Baia Mare. It happened in 2000 year when a dam containing toxic waste material from a gold mine burst, releasing 100,000 cubic meters of cyanide-contaminated waste water into the Lapus, the Somes, and eventually the Tisa and Danube rivers.
Political authorities from Bucharest claim that accepting the mine (in fact, a huge crater that will destroy two mountains) is necessary because it will bring money. Fals ! Romania’s stake in the project would be 25 percent, a percentage that would be considered a bad joke if it is compared to other similar projects from any place on the planet. More, Romanian leadership never explain why it is so urgently need money (Romania is not in economic crisis, according to these authorities), and what they will do with the money.
Amid a fall of 70% in value of the shares on the Stock Exchange in Toronto, as following the protests from Romania and public statements of PM, Gabriel Resources Company, with the arrogance specific of all big corporations, threaten the Romanian government. Gabriel Resources is urgently seeking confirmation of the actual statements made and clarification of the impact on the proposed permitting of the Project. If the draft legislation is rejected then the Company will assess all possible actions open to it, including the formal notification of its intentions to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties.
Protests continue in Romania’s capital.
Update: 11.09.2013 – Gabriel Resources′ arrogance in its full splendor
Gabriel Resources Ltd. (TSX: T.GBU, Stock Forum) told the Toronto Globe and Mail Wednesday that it will sue the Romanian government for billions of dollars if parliament votes next week to kill the company’s Rosia Montana mine, Europe’s biggest gold mining project.
“If the lower house [of parliament] does reject the project, we will go ahead with formal notification to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties for up to US$4 billion’’ said Gabriel Resources Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Henry in an interview with the newspaper.
Gabriel shares have been in free fall this week, losing about 60% of their value in the last couple of trading sessions. But the stock was up 18.5% in early trading Wednesday, leaving a market cap of $295.7 million, based on 384.1 million shares outstanding. The 52-week range is $2.94 and 41 cents.
On Monday, the company says it’s seeking clarification after reports cited the Romanian prime minister and other ministers saying the government will use an emergency procedure to halt debate of draft legislation in the two houses of parliament.
(A few hours later, Jonathan Henry denied that he said that.)
Update: 15 september 2013
The rallies were held in several cities on Sunday, including the capital Bucharest, where more than 10,000 people marched through the center chanting slogans against the project and calling for the government to resign. Similar demonstrations were also held in the Transylvanian city of Cluj, where almost 7,000 people gathered, and in several other cities including Iasi, Brasov and Sibiu. Protesters demand elimination of the incompetence and corruption of the current political class from Bucharest.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta has promised to “seek dialogue” with the protests as well as to create a special parliamentary committee to examine the project. The promise of a committee came after Ponta, in an populist attempt to calm the spirits, met with a group of over 30 employees on Sunday at the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation.