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December 2, 2021

Mining Law, rejected by Lower Chamber due to insufficient votes

The decision came after the plenum had adopted the law on-article-by article basis.
The Mining Law failed to pass yesterday in the Chamber of Deputies because of insufficient number of votes, after suffering the same fate in the Senate too. Only 160 lawmakers voted for the new act, 105 against and 22 abstained, which was not enough for the law to pass. Previously, the Lower House had adopted the law on article-by-article basis, in the form endorsed Monday evening by the Committees for Industries and Services. The Chamber of Deputies had debated and adopted the law also on article basis, in just 45 minutes, as the report of the committees was distributed to lawmakers as they were debating the law. During general discussions, the leader of the PDL group, Mircea Toader demanded that the act is returned to committees, on grounds that the draft law was adopted too fast.
As this is an organic law, in order to be adopted it needed the favourable votes of at least half the total number of deputies, plus one, respectively, 204. The amendments to the Mining Law were rejected Monday by the plenum of the Senate, also because of insufficient votes, after a series of heated disputes between PDL and the ruling coalition over the provisions of the new act.
The Mining Law will also regulate the Rosia Montana mining project. The statement was made Monday evening by the chairman of the Industry Committee of the Chamber, Iulian Iancu, after the Law had been rapidly adopted by the joint Industry and Administration Committees of the Lower House. Iulian Iancu mentioned that the elements of absolute novelty provided by the Law refer to the fact that no mine in Romania will be allowed to start operations before the Romanian state publicly announces it in all the phases of the process and without an auction being organised the most transparent way, imposing all due criteria, after collecting from the population all the observations related to the respective mine. Iancu added that the Mining Law compels the state to undergo all the phases pertaining to the protection of the archaeological site, if this is the case, and of the environment. The state must also make sure that the technology to be used does not endanger the environment, population, or the future of communities or whole regions. “There are some restrictions that will not be avoided by any authority if this law is promoted and approved. The fears expressed these days were shattered by text of this draft law,” Iancu assured. He added that the Law also compels authorities to make transparent public announcements, also online.
According to an amendment submitted by PNL and accepted by the joint Industry committees, the state – as owner of natural resources – has a right of pre-emption on the production resulting from the exploitation of natural resources. The Mining Law also prohibits granting licenses and contracts for the exploitation of natural resources in view of achieving projects that would transform the extraction areas into mono-industrial regions, provides another amendment filed by PNL, which was adopted as well. Liberals also submitted an amendment adopted by committees which stipulates the possibility of fines in the amount between RON 1-5 M for the companies that exploit natural resources and do not post their reports on the internet.
The Law, met with protests
The opponents of the Rosia Montana project did not believe the officials’ assurances and organised protests, in the attempt to block the adoption of the Mining Law. Dozens of protesters yesterday entered the building that hosts the Ombudsman’s office, shouting “United we save Rosia Montana” and “We won’t yield!” They are upset with the provisions of the Mining Law and asked for a discussion with Ombudsman Anastasiu Crisu and ask him to challenge the new law at the Constitutional Court. In a separate incident, some 100-150 people gathered at the Palace of the Parliament, where they protested against the Mining Law.
At Cluj, over 100 protesters rallied in front of the Prefect’s Office, demanding the rejection of the Mining Law. The wife of local mayor Emil Boc was in the crowd, Mediafax reports. The opponents waved banners with slogans like “We want nature, not cyanide,” “The government of betrayal,” “Ponta and his people lied the nation” and “Curse on the deputies for the cyanide in the Apuseni (Mountains).”

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