Government in appeal against Roşia Montană gold mine

History

Hungarian government officials have requested that their Romanian counterparts “respect European standards in gold mining” with regard to the Roşia Montană project which has seen public protests for three days running.

Late last week, the Romanian parliament passed a draft law which would allow the opening of a gold and silver mine – approval reportedly over 12 years in the making – to be worked by Canada-based Gabriel Resources under auspices of the Roşia Montană Gold Corporation, in which the government currently holds a 19.3% share. Surveys estimate the presence of approximately 314 tons of gold and over 1,600 tons of silver may be taken from the site.

Controversy has resulted from the current plans, which call for Gabriel to use some 40 tons of cyanide daily to extract the precious minerals, and 3,000 or more protestors have taken to the streets in Bucharest alone the past three days in response. Further demonstrations were held in London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Berlin and Washington DC.

The Hungarian government made its appeal in the run-up to a final vote on the matter slated for this week in which Central European environmental and cultural assets were described as a key part of national and regional heritage. Based on an accident involving cyanide-leaching at Romania’s Baia Mare gold mine run by a government joint venture in 2000 which ravaged the Tisza River and its shores, the government has since protested the use of such technology “in all possible forums.”

A referendum of local residents in December 2012 showed 63% of the population to support the opening of the mine.

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