Certej proposal blocked: Cluj Tribunal cancels urban plan for the mine

14/01/2019 8059 views

Cluj-Napoca/ Romania 15. January 2019 – Mining Watch Romania is pleased to announce a major legal victory against the Deva Gold mine proposal at Certeju de Sus. The Cluj Tribunal has cancelled the zonal urban plan (“Planul Urbanistic Zonal – PUZ”) required for permitting the mine site. In the absence of a valid PUZ, construction permits for the mine site can no longer be issued.

The Certej gold mine proposal also known as Deva Gold S.A. is a joint venture between Canadian-based Eldorado Gold (80%) and state-owned Minvest Deva (20%). Eldorado Gold, a low cost Canadian gold mining company (TSX:ELD & NYSE:EGO), intends to open Romania’s first cyanide based open-pit gold mine. However, the mine proposal has been beleaguered by scandals, operational problems, setbacks and national, and international opposition due to the use of very large amounts of cyanide and the destruction of pastures, forests and even protected forests (N2000). The tailings dams, with 169 m and 70 m high rockfill dams respectively would be located in the close vicinity of several densely populated villages: Hondol, Bocşa Mică and Certej. Similar to the halted Rosia Montana mine, Romanians generally associate the Certej proposal with corruption at the highest political level.

The zonal urban plan for the Certej mine site, approved by the Local Council of Certeju de Sus through Local Council Decision HCL 11/2010, defines local regulations related to land use and to the construction of open pit mines, tailings dams and the processing plant associated with the proposed mining operation. Following the cancellation of the PUZ by the Cluj Tribunal, it is now impossible to issue any permitting documents based on it.

“This is by far the most important step in stopping this illegal mine proposal. The court ruled that the development of the mine, which would use 1653 tonnes of cyanide annually and would generate only 221 jobs, was not compliant with applicable law. This is not the first time when the mine operator shows defiance of Romanian legislation. In 2014 the site management operations started illegally, and the works were stopped only once the courts intervened,” comments Roxana Pencea Brădățan of Mining Watch Romania.

The Cluj Tribunal acknowledged that the environmental permit for the Zonal Urban Plan was issued in breach of environmental legislation, and thus cancelled Decision 11/2010 issued by the Certeju de Sus’ Local Council.

The environmental permit cancelled by the Cluj Tribunal had been issued by the Regional Environmental Protection Agency in Timiș (Timiș REPA) in April 2010. The litigation case asking for the cancellation of the PUZ was initiated in 2016 by the ‘Independent Centre for the Development of Environmental Resources’, the association that provides the secretariat for Mining Watch Romania. In 2015 the same NGO obtained the cancellation of the PUZ for the development of the Roșia Montană proposal, and that court decision led to the definitive cessation of its permitting procedure.

“After many years of monitoring mine proposals in Romania, I have not seen any single project developed in compliance with the law. Mining companies use the same set of tactics to elude legal provisions. Companies would do anything to ignore the local communities’ rights or to avoid the obligations to protect natural areas,” concludes Roxana Pencea Brădățan.