Name of the mining area: Băiţa Bihor
Location: Băiţa Ştei, Bihor
Licence permit number: exploitation permit no. 999/11.1999
Project holder 2013: Băiţa SA
Shareholders: The Romanian State, Mining Minerals (in insolvency), subsidiary Dacian Mining
Project permitting stage: –
Baița Bihor – general aspects
Mineral Mining obtained from the Romanian state the mining right for polymetallic [/symple_highlight] (copper rich) ores, as per the license issued by ANRM in 1999. The company performed underground works in Băiţa mine, its activity being characterized by delays and failure to pay salary rights to the 170 workers in 2010. (link) One year later the company entered the reorganisation procedure, with a receiver in bankruptcy being appointed for administering the company. Given Mineral Mining’s lack of technical and financial capacity to mine the ore, the license was transferred to Băiţa SA, the state company being also the main creditor, with loans of 30 billion old lei to recover.
In the same spring of 2011 the junior company Eldore Mining Corporation (transformed in July 2012 in Stratos Resources Limited), listed on the stock exchange in Australia, expressed its intention to purchase Băiţa mine and to extend their activity by gold mining. According to a press release of Eldore, the mine’s purchase value was set at 15 million dollars. In the same period the interim administrator Alexandru Istoc, former trade union leader, stated that Mineral Mining in involved in an ongoing financial scandal in Sweden, failing “to justify there some 10 million Euro. The amount they claimed to have invested in Băiţa. However here they bought nothing but some shovels”(link). On 5 December 2011, Eldore announced they would withdraw from purchasing the Băiţa mine and would target more advanced projects.
Mining is an industry with an extremely high stake for public policies and financial markets, but particularly for the directly affected communities and ecosystems. While the industry highlights its capacity to generate wealth and the use of modern technologies, the responsibility for the risks, costs and liabilities generated has never been fully assumed. The industry’s domination in the area of public policies prevented a change of the status-quo, and the local communities’ voice remains marginal in the public discourse. The shift of mining companies’ interest from large investment projects to smaller but more numerous projects has a major impact upon local communities, with public attention being thus dissipated in many directions and the permitting procedures being simplified.