According to the site report of Romaltyn Mining updated in 2012, the company activities would be performed at three different locations in Baia Mare, technologically connected by a 13.6 km long pipe network crossing the city from east to west. The plant in Baia Mare, liable for the accident of January 2000, is called now Romaltyn Mining and between 2008 – April 2012 was owned by Polyus Gold, the largest gold producer in Russia.
Technical aspects on the mining project at Baia MareThe tailings in the Central tailings dam are the raw material for Romaltyn Mining SRL. In addition to tailings Romaltyn will also process pyrites and other mining products. The tailings are processed by cyaniding and by contact with activated carbon (CIP-CIL), but this method uses similar quantities of cyanide as classical cyanidation technologies. Activated carbon is an efficient absorbent for gold from solutions with a content below 1 mg Au/l. The precious metals content is lower than 0.001% of the raw material. Romaltyn intends to process 8.5 mil. tonnes of mining waste over three years. After processing, the cyanide tailings from the technological process would be disposed of in Aurul tailings dam.
It is estimated that the industrial wastewater discharged with the tailings contains cyanide, metals, metal cyanide complexes, thiocyanate, ammonia, cyanate and other dissolved constituents. Romaltyn maintains that the concentration will reduce to 5 ppm after the cyanide removal stage, although the tailings pulp will have a concentration of 150-200 ppm at the outlet from the technological process.
The cyanide concentration level put forward by Romaltyn was determined by the need to show to the public data below the admissible threshold according to European Union norms.
The average consumption of cyanide for leaching is 1.4 kg per tonne of mining waste. This gives a necessary quantity of 11,900 t of cyanide for processing mining waste in the Central tailings dam. Cyanide would be transported by road, in solid form. Following the chemical process of gold extraction, water with tailings and cyanide compounds are discharged through the pipe route from the Processing plant to the Aurul dam. The pipe route crosses the commercial and industrial area in the west of Baia Mare city, along the right bank of river Săsar.
This Mining Watch case study report contains a review of the main mining operations undertaken in the Baia Mare region over the last twenty years. The report presents in detail the mining activity of the former Romanian state company in partnership with the Australian company Esmeralda and dwells upon the circumstances of the cyanide spill in 2000 and the recent attempts of Romaltyn Mining to reopen gold extraction operations by cyaniding.
Context of the mining project proposed by Romaltyn Mining Ltd
The recovery of tailings disposed of in the Central Tailings Dam is planned based on the License for exploitation no. 1/1998 obtained by Transgold SA Baia Mare, which was transferred to Romaltyn Mining by Order 100/ 25.06.2007 of the ANRM president. The new owners propose a new mining project with the same scenario – processing of mining waste from the tailings dams and the mining waste dumps. According to Addendum no. 6 of 09.07.2012, the duration of the license for exploitation no. 1/1998 was extended until 8 July 2017. The Governmental Decision no. 437 of June 2013 approved the concession license no. 1/1998 for recovery of mining waste from the tailings dam Săsar (MEDA) and the Central Flotation tailings dam for Romaltyn Mining.
According to the notification communicated by the National Agency for Mineral Resources to the Independent Centre for the Development of Environmental Resources, Romaltyn Exploration SRL held active exploration licenses for gold-silver ores in the mining areas Camarzana Nord (Camarzana Satu Mare), Aluniş Piatra Handal – eastern area (Tăuţii Măgheruş, Maramureş), Aluniş Piatra Handal – western area (Cicarlău, Maramureş), Poprad (Baia Mare), awarded in 2009.
Starting 2006 the majority stake of Romaltyn Mining belonged almost each year to a different company or investment group. This is practically in line with the pattern of mobile shareholders specific to mining projects over the last 10 years:
2006 – Transgold assets are taken over by KazakhGold Group Limited and the British mining group Oxus Gold.
2007 – KazakhGold Group Limited takes over the majority stake of Transgold.
2009 – KazakhGold Group Limited is taken over by Polyus Gold International, the largest gold producer in Russia, a company held by Mihail Prohorov, an oligarch close to Kremlin. Polyus Gold became thus the owner of Romaltyn Mining.
2012 – Polyus Gold International sells Romaltyn Mining and Romaltyn Exploration to a company of the British Virgin Islands affiliated to SAT & Company JSC.
2013 – Fribourg Investments România, an investment fund managed by the business man Ion Sturza, former vice-president of Rompetrol, announced their acquisition of 49% of Romaltyn Limited shares.
Similarly to the discourse of the 1990s, Ion Sturza, member of the Board of Directors, stated that ‘Romaltyn’s activity solves an existing issue – the waste disposed there is a source of serious pollution – and opens opportunities to invigorate several companies in Baia Mare’. According to the first press releases, the relaunching of Romaltyn activities was scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2013 upon completion of technology upgrade works at the plant, replacement of pipe networks and completion of the water treatment plant at the tailings dam.