Judiciary committee voted against the project yesterday.
The Senate’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday issued a unanimous negative opinion on a draft law concerning the exploitation of gold and silver deposits at Rosia Montana, Agerpres reports. The opinion will be discussed in an emergency debate.
Attending the debates, Culture Minister Daniel Barbu said the rules regarding this case are being strictly observed, and, according to the Justice Ministry’s opinion, an answer was thus provided to some observations on a version of the draft law that the Government had discussed at a meeting. Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Tudor Chiuariu recommended a negative opinion on the project, in line with the opinion of the Legislative Council as well as the position of the National Liberal Party (PNL), in the ruling Social Liberal Union (USL).
After the PNL President’s statements according to which the Rosia Montana project should be withdrawn, statements that basically changed the course of the draft in Parliament, the Liberal leader reiterated that his party will vote against the draft.
“My viewpoint expressed in the morning was also taken into account. After having debated, we took a vote with all the parliamentarians, an overwhelming vote. The position pledged by all the PNL parliamentarians is to vote against this draft law. It is not me or the PNL who were against a joint commission. The draft law must anyway be discussed in the Senate, it has already been tabled. It is not us who cancelled or blocked the meeting of the joint Standing Bureaus. We ascertained such a situation, the bill is in the Senate, it will undergo an urgent procedure, the PNL and the Liberal parliamentarians’ position is to vote against this draft law”, Antonescu, who is also the Senate Speaker, said later on Monday, after a meeting of the Liberal floor groups. He explained there had been two votes in favour of the Rosia Montana project, with the remainder being cast against.
Antonescu stressed there was only one Liberal minister, Culture Minister Daniel Barbu, who okayed the bill and added that the minister provided full explanation that ‘the bill had to be okayed, from the viewpoint of the culture ministry’.
Senate Speaker also opined there is no reason for him to politically assume the payment of any damages by the Romanian State in case the Parliament rejects the Rosia Montana project. “(…) I presume there are no considerable damages, or such risks, because otherwise the Premier would not have said that he votes against the project. I think it is a misunderstanding. Politically, there is no reason for me to assume any payment. Neither me, nor PNL have reached any understanding with any company, or any business group, or with the Romanian voters, or anybody else. I reckon we have our freedom to vote in the Parliament, one way or another, and I can see no connection between our option of voting for or against, and these dreadful amounts,’ Antonescu said, quoted by Agerpres. The National Liberal Party (PNL) President stressed he is to talk over the issue with the Prime Minister. “This is no scandal. (…) PNL expressed its will to vote. That’s all (…) Perhaps, everybody have their share of quilt. I believe it is because of the busy calendar on the Government’s agenda that we failed starting it (discussing – editor’s note). It is very well that we hold this talk before the project is launched. But, this is not decisive, and no reason of scandal,’ Antonescu concluded.
Environment Minister Rovana Plumb said yesterday that there is no other way of gold extraction besides the cyanides method and there is no danger for water pollution.
Chairman of the Romanian Academy Ionel Haiduc also reacted on this topic. He said on Monday that the project is unacceptable as it now stands. ‘We are not against capitalising on Romania’s natural resources, but this has to be done smartly, to the interest of the country and by observing sustainable development conditions,’ Haiduc told Agerpres. In his opinion, accepting gold mining projects in the Apuseni Mountains should be conditional upon meeting three prerequisites: mining should be performed in underground galleries and not open pit so as to avoid harming the environment or endangering the archaeological sites. At the same time, he believes the financial benefits of the Romanian Government should be significantly in favour of the national interest, as 6-per cent royalties are too small. Geologist Aurel Santimbrean who for longer than twenty years, namely until 1987, was the head of the Rosia Montana state-run gold mine, also said for Agerpres that it is not the gold and silver which are the most valuable ores in the area that Gold Corporation plans to exploit, but it is the rare metals that are the real economic treasures, such as titanium, germanium, arsenic, molybdenum, vanadium, nickel, cobalt, gallium and wolfram.
On the other hand, according to Mediafax, Gabriel Resources shares dropped 54 per cent in Toronto, to CAD 0.68 (USD 0.65), the lowest level since 1999, after Premier Ponta stated that the solution for the Rosia Montana project is for it to be urgently rejected in the Senate and then in the Lower Chamber.
Pro-Rosia Montana protest
On the other hand, some 500 persons, employees of the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation and Rosia Montana locals, took part yesterday in a protest in the center of the commune, asking for the start of the mining project. According to Mediafax, some of the participants wore mining equipment, being employees of the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, while others were locals that support the mining project. The people chanted slogans such as “we want to work, not to beg,” “we want jobs,” “mining means jobs.”