19 July 2024

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NARM grants mining concessions without the prior consent of local communities

July 1st,2014, Cluj-Napoca/ Romania – An order of the National Agency for Mineral Resources (NAMR) which came into force on June 25th announces a public auction for the concession of 24 exploration blocks of various deposits in Romania. These include four new gold and poly-metallic perimeters: Troița Piţiguş (2.324 km ²) and Certej North (8.384 km ²) in Hunedoara, Magura Ilvei (9.277 km ²) in Bistrita Nasaud, Colţii Lăzarului (7.285 km ²) in Alba.

After examining the request for proposals, NAMR will award exploration concessions to mining companies, paving the way for new projects that most likely intend to use the controversial cyanide based technology. The new 27.270 km² leased at this stage would add to the existing exploration licenses for the gold-silver and poly-metallic deposits in the Romanian historic Golden Quadrilateral. NAMR wittingly takes advantage of a specific legislative void that enables the authority to grant mining exploration permits for areas that under the current national or European legislation cannot be mined due to special protection status. It is only later, under the environmental impact assessment, that companies find out that certain concession areas cannot be turned into open pit mines, facing massive opposition from local communities and environmental groups. In the case of the above mentioned areas, the mining concessions are to be awarded without informing or consulting local communities. In total, approximately 15,000 people will be directly affected by these new concessions. The public is deprived of accurate and independent sources of information on the real impact of future mining projects. The trade talks between the Romanian authority and the mining companies are being held in secret and the public is being kept in the dark. These secret negotiations will result in concession permits that will turn into exploration licenses once the companies decide to invest. Due to this nontransparent process that is hidden under the “state or service secret” numerous corruption allegations regarding the Romanian officials arise. These concessions are granted without taking into account any overlap covering archaeological sites or protected areas. No prevention of any negative impact of mining activities on these sites is foreseen, the environmental and heritage laws are violated ab initio. The Troița Piţiguş and Certej North perimeters overlap completely on the Natura 2000 site – SPA Metaliferi Mountains, making the conservation of species protected under the Habitats and Birds Directives impossible, assuming that mining projects get developed in the area. The granting of such permits without consulting in advance the concerned communities makes it difficult to prevent any violations of property, privacy and clean environment rights. The sustainable development of local communities in these areas, although strongly impacted, remains insignificant in the authorities’ decision at this early permitting stage. Through illegitimate pressure on local authorities or the administrative and economic blockade ensured by urban zoning plans (turning whole municipalities into mono-industrial development areas), mining companies constantly violate property rights and obstruct alternative economic activities. Over 10,000 people have asked already from 2012 the Romanian Government to stop the endorsement of cyanide mining projects, yet the central authorities show indifference towards the public opinion and the legitimate will of citizens. For more information please contact Roxana Pencea, mobile: +40 (0)723 024300, e-mail: contact@miningwatch.ro/mwatch

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