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The race for the Rosia Montana gold: Romanian politicians, the controversial project and Gabriel Resources

de Attila Biro, transl/adapt. C.B.     HotNews.ro
Miercuri, 23 decembrie 2009, 20:40 English | Business

Three ministers from the future Boc Cabinet, namely Adriean Videanu, Laszlo Borbely and Kelemen Hunor expressed publicly their opinion and intentions in regards to the mining project from Rosia Montana during the parliamentary hearings from Tuesday, December 22. At this stage the procedures of giving the Rosia Montana mining project the green light are stuck at the Environment Ministry, after NGOs opposing the opening of the gold mine have contested several documents in court.

Canadian company Gabriel Resources claims that the Romanian state will win four billion dollars. But the presumed profit will be receive in instalments, over a period of 16 years and safe for the company's claims, there are no guarantees that it will happen. The only contract between the Canadian company and the Romanian state, namely the exploitation license, is classified.

The opportunity
Future Environment minister Laszlo Borbely said his he needs 101% guarantees that the exploitation would not pollute the area before he authorises the mining project. A Romanian-Hungarian commission is collecting data to decide on the verdict. During the parliamentary commission hearings on December 22, Borbely stated that Gabriel resources, the main Rosia Montana share holder, Gold Corporation, tried to obtain a new local urbanity plan. The trials on the case ruled in court in 2007 that the Romanian government stopped the project's evaluation procedures.

Economy Minister Adriean Videanu declared on December 22 that he ants t see the Rosia Montana project happening. He refereed to the opportunity that Romania's 18 gold mining fields could mean, namely one million dollars a day spending and jobs. According to him, the issue that needs solving is technical.

Watch the museum
Culture minister Kelemen Hunor he would not rush to authorise the Rosia Montana project. He wants to have a research carried out first. He indicated that over 10.500 objects have been renovated after the archaeological studies started in 2001. The objects are the subject of a new museum at Rosia Montana.

The mining project from Alba county (West) resurfaced in the public debate after Adriean Videanu publicly declared that he wants it on the governing programme, claiming that a fast exploitation of the gold was necessary due to the high price on the current market.

President Traian Basescu visited Rosia Montana in July 2009. During his recent electoral campaign, he said he was unable to take a stand on the project since he lacked the expertise of specialists. He noted that he will not be against the exploitation because 80% of the Romanians feel this way, nor will he say "There are six hundred tones of gold, two thousand tones of silver, it is crisis so let's exploit them!" in the absents of the scientists' opinion.

Rosia Montana affair figures
A Gabriel Resources report from May 2009 estimated the Rosia Montana project to target 224 tones of gold and 882 tones of silver. The exploitation is going to stretch over 16 years, according to the same report, indicated that the Romanian state would gain 4 billion euros, that is 250 million dollars a year, namely 700,000 dollars a day. The money would come from mining taxes, the exploitation fee and dividends. The state owns 19% of the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation shares.

Political sources declared for HotNews.ro that the contract needs to be renegotiated in order to maximize the profit and those environmental fees must be paid by Gabriel resources, otherwise the Romanian state risks spending on the ecological process more than it gains from profits. NGOs and the public opinion contested the figures. The study has been carried out by the exploiting company and the exploitation licence is classified.

The secret license
According to official date from the Romanian National Agency for Mineral Resources, the licence for the exploitation of the Rosia Montana resources has been awarded to state company Minvest Deva in 1989. The licence was then transferred to Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, whose main share holder changed several times. The economic engagements and the licence’s details have not been made public. The Parliament requested in 2007 the de-classifying of the license. ANRM asked the same thing from Gabriel Resources, but the company refused.

What the project needs
Only the Environment Ministry can decide the start of the exploitation. The project has been blocked since 2007. Gabriel resources started the procedures for the mining project in 2004. What is missing is the environment agreement. Almost any approval the company got has been contested in court by the NGOs opposing the project.


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