Controversial gold mining project included in governing programme

Acting Economy Minister Adriean Videanu, who is nominated for the same post in the next cabinet, said on Friday that he would include the Rosia Montana mining project in the next governing programme so that the project begins as soon as possible, with the current investor, Canadian company Gabriel Resources.

The project has come under heavy fire from environmentalists, NGOs and even some politicians, as it is seen as a high risk for the area’s environment and the local Roman archeological discoveries. The greatest threat comes from the fact Gabriel Resources will use cyanide-based substances in the process of extracting the tons of gold and silver from Apuseni Mountains.

So far, the authorities have not yet given approval to the project and in 2008, when the Environment Ministry was led by Attila Korodi of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), the union asked that Parliament immediately pass a law banning the use of cyanide substances in mining projects.

According to official sources quoted by Mediafax, the inclusion of the Rosia Montana mining project in the governing programme will be negotiated by Videanu and the nominated Environment Minister Laszlo Borbely, also from the UDMR.

The UDMR and mostly neighbouring Hungary have generally opposed the programme over environmental issues and pollution risks, following a 2000 mining accident at Baia Mare, which also affected parts of Hungary.

Gold Resources expects to produce 7.943 million ounces of gold and 28.891 million ounces of silver over 17 years. The project will cost over USD 630 M and involves the creation of four mining pits. The company insists that the project will benefit the Romanian economy, as it will employ 634 people for about 15 years and 1,040 during construction. Moreover, the company’s impact study estimates that USD 2 bln will be injected into the Romanian economy.

Besides the environmental risks, opponents also decry the fact that the mining project will damage or destroy important architectural relics and will also prompt the relocation of more than 900 homes, nine churches and two cemeteries. The company has reportedly offered financial support for the relocation.

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