Civil society in Romania prepares for another Rosia Montana scenario at Rovina

28/05/2015 3149 views

28 May 2015 – Mining Watch Romania and Save Rosia Montana Campaign condemn the Romanian Government for granting the exploitation license for copper and gold at the Rovina deposit. The strategy to turn the Apuseni Mountains into a huge open pit-mining project rockets with the title granted to Carpathian Gold. The Ponta Government opens the way to new mining projects with devastating effects upon the environment, ignoring the tens of thousands of people who took to the streets against cyanide mining at Rosia Montana in the autumn of 2013. According to the former director of the Geological Institute of Romania, Ştefan Marincea, the development of projects in the area would entail “the generation of no less than 2,900 hectares of mining waste”.

“We have been following the Rovina project and any plans to develop it will be closely monitored. Investors should be aware that the Rovina project would undergo the same scrutiny as the Certej and Rosia Montana projects. Romanians are not willing to allow corrupt Governments’ to destroy the Carpathians Mountains,” declared Roxana Pencea of Mining Watch Romania.

This mining project proposes the exploitation of 120 tonnes of gold and 100,000 tonnes of copper in huge open pits. Rovina could thus become the largest mining operation in Romania, the size of the two open pits – 500 and 600 m diameter respectively and depth between 300 and 400 m – exceeding in size even the Rosia Montana project. The entire area is currently covered with agricultural land, pastures and forests, all project objectives being located on uninhabited areas but in the close vicinity of Rovina and Merisor villages belonging to Criscior and Bucureşci communes. In a straight line Rovina is only 20 kilometres distant from Roaia Montană and only 7 km away from Brad, a town with 13,900 inhabitants.

The procedures applied by the National Agency for Mineral Resources (NAMR) to manage and sell mineral deposits are secret, the contracts by which the Romanian state yields the mineral resources being still considered confidential information. The National Agency for Mineral Resources, which issued the titles, is directly subordinated to the Government, the president of this institution being appointed by a political decision of the prime-minister.

In this case NAMR has also granted the exploitation title for Rovina to a private operator, in a total lack of transparency. At the date of this press release the Agency has not published on its website any information on the new license and this cannot be found on the list of public announcements either. NAMR actually behaves like a state within a state, despite the fact that mineral resources are subject to public property exclusively, according to the Constitution. It is extremely serious that local population is completely ignored in the stage of issuing and granting the mining titles. Most of the people who would be directly affected by the mining project do not even know basic information about the project; most of them do not even understand what an open pit of such size means.

“NAMR should act as an administrator and not as owner of the deposits. Beyond the suspicions of corruption and illicit pursue of personal interests (demonstrated in the cases of Rosia Montana and Certej), a critical question can be asked: if everything is legal and undertaken for the public interest, then why is everything secret?,” commented Tudor Brădăţan on behalf of the Mining Watch Romania network.

Carpathian Gold (CPN:TSX), a Canadian mining junior, intends to open a low-cost monster open-pit copper and gold mine. The Rovina deposit is owned by Carpathian Gold through the company Samax Romania Limited (based in the Virgin Islands), which in its turn holds Samax România, a limited liability company (SRL) registered in Baia Mare, Romania. According to a company announcement of July 2011, Barrick Gold (ABX:TSX), the largest mining company in the world, purchased 9% of the shares of Carpathian Gold against the amount of 20 million dollars.

In the present context of corruption suspicions, obvious incompetence in defending the national interest and total lack of transparency, NAMR’s activity is not appropriate for a standard worth of a European nation. Therefore the granting of new mining titles comes at a time when decisions are not assumed by the affected communities and when authorities’ lack capacity to critically assess mining proposals. The forceful and extremely politicized infliction of new mining projects, approved in a non-transparent manner and at the limit of legality, at a very fast pace, only suggests the industry’s and the Government’s intention to impose projects with many risk factors, which are not assumed by the Romanian society.

For more information: Roxana Pencea, mobile: 0723024300, email: contact@miningwatch.ro