Romania Mining: The True Price of Gold

Mountains in danger of disappearing and hazardous wastes byproducts would result

    Hikers look out over the Corna Valley as they stand on Carnic mountain at the Rosia Montana gold mine site on Sept. 12 in Romania. Carnic mountain is one of four in the immediate area that are rich in gold and silver deposits, and that Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, which is majority-owned by the Canadian company Gabriel Resources, is seeking to exploit. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

    A generation ago, the Romanian township of Rosia was primarily known for its hiking trails and ancient caves. Today, it is the intended site of Europe’s largest and most environmentally destructive mine.

    For over a decade, the project designed by Canada-based Gabriel Resources Ltd., lacked a green light from Parliament, but a few weeks ago the Romanian government approved a draft bill that, if passed, would effectively commence the bulldozing.

    If permitted, the company will conduct a highly destructive form of mining that would level four whole mountains and accumulate 200 million tons of hazardous waste material.

    The mine has very few supporters, mostly owing to the fact that the annual use of 14,000 tons of cyanide is a key component of Gabriel Resources’ business plan to extract the mountains’ gold and silver deposits.

    This sort of mining is not without precedent in Romania, nor without incident. In January 2000, the waste storage containers of another gold mining company burst, resulting in the worst European environmental disaster since Chernobyl.

    On Sept. 8, protesters took to the streets of Bucharest and other Romanian cities in vast quantities. Though the estimates vary according to source, all put the number in the thousands. If the anti-mine movement continues in this manner, it would constitute the most significant popular movement in Romania since the 1989 revolution.

    Clearly the carrying out of this mine as intended would almost surely result in a massive environmental calamity. As global citizens and human beings, let us do all in our power to prevent it.

    Jack Feinberg lived in Bucharest during 2012–13 and is a regular contributor to the Romanian newspaper Dilema Veche.


    • Leonid Budge

      The only Roman ruins and mining tunnels which are accessible to the public and which were extensively restored by Gabrielle Resources will not be damaged at all.

      • haram

        Gabriel Resources – Romania’s charitable organization …!! What’s the account number, I want to donate!!

        • Leonid Budge

          Why the cynicism. what Gabrielle Reesources has done in RM is admirable. Have you every been there – I doubt it. What they will do when the mine is developed will have a very positive impact on the region.

    • Leonid Budge

      This will not result in an environmental calamity. the environmental calamity is the pollution for excessive use of nitrogenous and phosphate fertiliser in farming operations which pollute the waters of Romania.

      • haram

        Yes, sure …! we’ll take your word …!

        • Leonid Budge

          Dont take my word sport – just look at modern mining in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United states, Sweden and Spain as a few examples. Postive impact on society.

    • Leonid Budge

      There is far more area occupied by garbage tips in romania than will ever be occupied by the Rosia Montana site. This mine to EU standards will help pay for the aging Romania population and will assist with the care for older people and support a living pension – not a dying pension.

      • Adela Popa

        The resources can be extracted later when a better technology is developed. Now there is too much corruption for this type of project in Romania. The money the state will get is not so much, and probably even that amount will not get be used in the right way.

        • Leonid Budge

          The technology which we presently have is certainly good enough for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden, Spain, United States – all of which have vastly better environments and tougher regualtion than Romania.

        • Leonid Budge

          What has corruption got to do with it? This operation will be run by a western company which has independently audited statements. It will be totoaly transaparent – it will not be possible to hide any of the gold production and that people of Romaina will get all that they are due and a large number of skilled jobs will be created.

      • haram

        How thoughtful …! Eu standards and care for the seniors. What could be better! paradise is only steps away!

        • Leonid Budge

          Thoughtful – no. The state will get billions and the jobs created and local business opportunities will have a fantastic impact on the region – a very positive long term impact.

    • Leonid Budge

      How about Pensions are increased to level of E400 per month and this is funded by a tax increase to 50% on people who have jobs paying more than E200 per month.

      • haram

        how about you minding your own business?

        • Leonid Budge

          It is my business I pay taxes. I am concerned about aged people care in Romania – or the lack of it. Pensioners starve to death each year or freeze to death in winter becasue there are not enough funds to provide the support for these people who worked hard all their lives. Now you want to stop a project will have a positive impact in RM and the region and indeed on the lives of pensioners right across the country.

        • Leonid Budge

          Mind my own business indeed. Your country IS my business. I pay taxes in the EU and I have a deep interest in Romania for a number of reasons. When all else fails the leftists always resort to personal attacks and abuse like this.

          • Apollo B

            Yes but no one is asking you to voice your opinion on here. It is an article on a website, your not going to change people’s minds by posting a comment after comment on here. You are just wasting your time (unless you are being paid for this but I am not accusing you). You should go to your tell your government how much you agree with it and see if there is anything you can do to help them. Maybe they will give you a job like posting comments on articles. But you voicing your opinion on here is not really going to do anything. But to be honest you seem to be the only one who supports this after reading the comments.

            • Leonid Budge

              Then why are you posting? The left dislike democracy – and sport this is democracy. Here we have all the usual:

              1) Personal attack
              2) Accusations of being paid to post (untrue)

              I represent the majority of Romanians who want this project developed and developed now. The EU and the World Bank want this project developed.

              You read my comments and so have many other. The truth will out and the mine will be developed during 2014 despite the ranting of thsoe who oppose all development.

    • puckmugger

      Great propaganda article….Romania is one of the poorest countries in the EU and you think a bunch of hippie artisans are going to stop Romania from digging themselves out of their financial grave?

      • Nora Al

        Romania does not want that *Crap! Also the deal is that the company gets all the gold, not the romanian state. So again, what propaganda? I think you either are retarded or you are payed to post this crap.

        • Leonid Budge

          Before you accuse me of being paid to post this – you are entirely wrong I work for noone – except the good of the Romanian people. The romanian people will be taxes, royalties and jobs and will not have to put up or guarantee any of the capital. The comapny will get a reasonably but not excessive return and the revenues to the peoples of Romania will be significant – go and have a look on the RM website – its all laid out.

          • Nora Al

            That is BS propaganda, they did not restaurate anything from the village, actually they built a barn on top of what was supposed to be a historical building and they hung a banner saying how much money they invested. Also as i said before the romanian people will get CYANIDE and ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS not money. Everything on their site is a lie. The way you try to make RMGC look good speaks loads about the kind of person you are. I wish to you, your family and all your nation a project like this right at your door!!! Have a bottle of cyanyde while at it, you seem to be a great supporter of these practices ;)

        • Leonid Budge

          I suggest you ask the local furniture business how much tax they are paying. Likely very very little – and maybe not even the social charges on employees wages. You can guarantee that as is usual part pay in cash and part pay in taxable income. We all know how this works in this country.

      • Leonid Budge

        I disagree with you they are not hippe artisans they are well intentioned people who do not trust their govenment. The dont trust their government for good reason. In the past the politicians have only acted in self interest and have often stolen rather than contributed. The protestors have been well manipulated by various pressure groups, including ultra leftists and some of these groups have been funded by the Hungarian government amongst others who do not wish to see western Romania developed. Romania will get this mine and the income that it produces.

        • Nora Al

          Also stop this Hungary lies, no one will take any part of Romania nowadays. I am from Transylvania and no one wants cyanide mining there. The catastrophes at Baia Mare and Certej were enough for 20 generations. There is no leftist influence, this is about stealing our resources and destroying our nature. You really make me sick

    • http://www.facebook.com/husac.lucian Husac Lucian

      Most of Romania’s politicians are sold to the mining company (here including the PM and president)…and this sad story (with corrupted politicians) has continued since 23 years ago, when we get rid of communism.

      • Leonid Budge

        This is untrue. This is simply a lie. What possiuble evidence do you have for this. I suggest that you make the statement, publish it, with your address and then you can defend the defamation case in court and have a unique opportunity to prove the the President an dPM and corrupt – they might not be but not in this case. Considering the shareholders of Gabrielle, if the CEO suggested that a corrupt payment was to be made – he would be immediately terminated from his position. In major modern mining companies corruption is not tolerated and indeed it is simply not necessary.

        • Marius Serban

          Of course there will be no direct payment – people at this level are not stupid. They make “marketing” or “consulting” contracts with off-shore companies which are owned directly/indirectly by politicians.
          GBU said they invested 500 million $ in this project so far. Can they itemize at the lowest level where the money were spent? How much were spent for “marketing” and “consulting” ?

      • Leonid Budge

        It is posisble to do business in the region without corruption, its takes time and patience and often costs more but the result is far better. When politicians realise that the company will not pay they no longer ask. The problem in romania may well be that Gabrielle has refused in the past to pay and it is now those very parties who are objecting to the project because there is no longer anyhting in it for them – particularly some of the so-called institutes whose comments show their lack of understanding of the technology or the science.

    • Pop Ilie

      Cea mai proastă abordare a unui proiect este cel legat de Exploatarea prin Corporaţia RMGC de la Roşia Montană pe bază de cianurii, pentru care Institutul Geotehnic Român a dat un aviz negativ de mediu, SRI prin Călin Maior este tot împotriva proiectului, români din ţară şi diaspora sunt în manifestaţii de ” SALVAREA ROŞIA MONTANĂ ” . Insă Dan Şova în interes de familie, latră să se continue lucrările. Banca Naţională Română este dispusă să cumpere aur de la Roşia Montană. Poparul, singurul proprietar al solului şi al zăcămintelor NU ESTE DE ACORD cu acest proiect!

      • Leonid Budge

        Cianura este folosită în multe țări, fără nici o problemă. Acesta este utilizat în Noua Zeelandă și Suedia, care au legislație foarte puternică de mediu. Cianura este distrus rapid în cazul în care pur și simplu este permis să se oxideze. Cu toate acestea Gabrielle își propune să utilizeze o Technoloy bine înțeles de distrugere a cianurii care va duce la niveluri de cianură în sterilele mai puțin decât v-ar găsi în migdale.

    • http://www.goodplanet.org/ flesh

      Leonid Budge and puckmugger, you are the ones with the propaganda for Gabriel Resources. Do you believe you’ll be paid in gold?
      The mining project of Gabriel Resources in Rosia Montana is a crime against nature, against romanian history and against local community. It employs around 1000 people for 17 years, but brings loss of income for around 20000 people in surrounding area, mostly farmers, wood factories workers and people who live from tourism. The Romanian state gains only 4% of the gold and silver extracted. Many Romanian institutions declared they are against this mining project.
      So, please, do not believe liars like Leonid Budge and puckmugger. For all I know, they could be the Romanian president and the Romanian prime-minister, who were bought by Gabriel Resources.

      • Leonid Budge

        I am not paid by anyone – I only have the best interests of Romania and its people at heart. Romania needs to move forward into the modern industrial age – and that involves the development of RM – and in 2014. I am looking forward to the commencement of construction.

      • Leonid Budge

        What untruths:

        1) No forrestry worker will loose their job
        2) No farmers will loose their income – there is no farming in the proposed mining area
        3) With improved amenities and hotels tourism will increase
        4) The state will get 6% of the gold produced plus income taxation on profits, employees will pay taxes on their incomes and VAT on the goods and services they buy.

        5) The mine will become the economic engine for the entire region.

        Why would Romanian institutions oppose this mine – using technology used extensively in more more modern, more advanced and far wealthier countries. It suggests that these experts have another agenda or are they being paid to do this. We all know that there is no state funding for these bodies – follow the money!

    • Leonid Budge

      The truth is that the protests have little to do with the environment and everything to do with the dissatisfaction of the people of Romania with their government and the lack of real economic improvement int eh last 20 years. Lets develop RM and lets do it quickly for the greater benefit of the Romanian people.

      • Alpha Aurigids

        The end of debate is not here and it will not be until RMGC pack their stuff and nicely go to their homes, leaving us in our poverty and ignorance..

        Not that you are paid by RMGC, but you repeat your slogans over and over on dozens of sites, and just to give examples:

        –> “No realistic alternative to cyanide. Thiosulphate has been mentioned..” is reproduced identically here http://www.politics.hu/20131004/european-civil-initiative-could-prevent-romania-gold-mine-project-says-fidesz-mep/ (even the typo “that doe snot apply to RM”….)

        –> ” The development of Rosia…” reproduced identically on the same site as above..

        So, spare us of your propaganda because the things are clear!

    • Leonid Budge

      Seems like everyone is now in agreement:

      The development of Rosia Montana will be done to the highest standards
      RM will create 3,000 jobs
      RM will generate $24 billion in benefits to the Romanian people – without any risk of capital
      RM will become an engine for development and economic prosperity in the region.

    • Leonid Budge

      No realistic alternative to cyanide. Thiosulphate has been mentioned
      and its a technology which various groups have been trying to
      commercialise for decades. However while its good for preg-robbing or
      better than cyanide that doe snot apply to RM. The chemistry of the
      thiosulphate reaction is more complex, difficult to optomise on an
      industrial scale and is very sensitive to operating conditions. With
      the usual variations in ore characteristics it difficult to establish
      the process and very significant swings in recovery are experiences.
      There thermodynamics and kinetics of the thiosulphate reaction are
      simply less favorable – a lot less favorable than cyanide. The gold
      thiosulphate complex is barely adsorbed onto carbon so you have to use
      an alternative for example resin or cementation onto a reductant. Both
      of these are more complex and more expensive although thiosulphate is a
      fraction of the cost of cyanide. Given its low toxicity if thiosulphate
      was a realistic alternative it would have been used on a commercial
      scale decades ago.

      As such its not a realistic candidate for a large scale commercial
      operation and that should simply be the end of the discussion.

      This argument however is not about the environment.

    • Leonid Budge

      Looks like the debate here is now at an end. Lets get Rosia Montana constructed and operating for the good of Romania – a majority of Romanians agree with the development. The government should take careful note.

    • Nora Al

      NO one does, you hypocrite. 30000 people on the streets in Bucharest only and you have the nerve to lie like this? Also people all over the world found out about this and they don’t like it. Slovaks and others that oppose mining projects like this for years are in solidarity with us. So your petty comments have no effect. But I am sure Karma will get you :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/husac.lucian Husac Lucian

      Pardon me, you are the rubbish here!

    • Leonid Budge

      There are only 30,000 people in Romania – I dont think so. This project must be developed for the good of Romania. Just as the gold project in Greece is being developed. The Greek government relaised that it was in the interests of the country and the project now has the full support of the state.


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