Small scale cyanide mining, a new way for cyaniding Romania The economic crisis and the rising price of precious metals over the last year resulted in a growing interest from investors internationally in starting mining projects in Europe. The whole South-Eastern Europe faces such project proposals, eight of which are located only in Greece. The same trend has also been visible in Romania since June 2012 when members of the European Parliament and the Romanian Government discussed, within a seminar in Bucharest, about our country’s potential to develop seemingly small scale cyanide gold mining projects. During that debate Romania was appreciated as the country with the largest gold reserves in Europe, with „68 gold deposits in the Golden Quadrilateral in the Apuseni Mountains” by the director of the Romanian Geology Institute, Mr. Ştefan Marincea. The participants’ speeches and presentations indicated a new strategic direction for mining development in Romania. According to this strategic direction, Romania would develop small scale cyanide gold mining projects. The National Agency for Mineral Resources sent to the Independent Center for the Development of Environmental Resources, following a court action 1, the complete list of active licenses for gold-silver ores and polymetallic ores in Romania. In the context of the re-assessment of mineral resource deposits and the reconfiguration of the industry strategy to initiate smaller scale projects, a higher number of goldsilver mining projects will be proposed for approval in Romania over the next years.According to researcher Ștefan Marincea, for the other 50 deposits identified the use of the same cyanide based preparation technology „would generate no less than 2900 hectares with cyanide waste”. The three reports below speak in details about mining projects in Romania analising opencast mining accidents and exploitations already closed, but also approval steps aimed at new exploitation for silver and gold.
The Mining Watch Romania 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.
Certej Authorities incapacity to critically analise new mining projects The Mining Watch Romania report includes a detailed review of mining operations developed in the area of Certeju de Sus commune in Hunedoara county. It describes the path with plenty of irregularities of the license transfer from the state company to the private investor. The latter gained afterwards huge amounts upon selling the project and hence the deposit to another mining operator with ongoing projects in Greece, Turkey, Brazil and China. The report also includes an account of the very serious mining accident of 1971, kept secret by the communist authorities, which made at least 89 victims. The accident at Certej was considered the most dreadful peacetime disaster in Romania, but this is not the only harm produced by mining in this area. The severe poverty and unemployment upon the sudden closure of the state mine are characteristic for this commune.
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.