MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Gabriel's Rosia Montana project: Effectively Dead

Published by MAC on 2004-02-17

Gabriel's Rosia Montana project: Effectively Dead

Rosia Montana, România; 19. February 2004 ­ 'Alburnus Maior' has learned that Gabriel Resources ('Gabriel') again postponed the submission of the environmental study required for governmental approval in order to start developing the Rosia Montana gold mining project .

Gabriel Resources (TSX: GBU), a junior Canadian mining company, intends to realize Europe's largest open-cast mining development in Rosia Montana; entailing, amongst other, the involuntary resettlement of over 2000 people. From its onset the development has been beleaguered with scandals and operational problems including local, national and international opposition. Gabriel has been delaying the EIA process since October 2002.

In November 2002 Petru Lificiu, the then Romanian Minister for the Environment, set up a PHARE Commission to advise on the EU procedures and conditions that Gabriel's project would need to meet. According to the commission's recommendations, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will have to include a wide range of issues and costs; directly and indirectly associated with Gabriel's project (i.e. social, patrimonial, archaeological, legal, economic and environmental issues).

To give an example, the PHARE Commission confirmed that the impact of Gabriel's project will be trans-boundary and that the Danube and Espoo Conventions therefore are applicable. Member states such as Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria thus would have to be consulted. Hungarian, Bulgarian and Serbian communities that could be affected by Gabriel's project will have an additional say during the EIA procedure. Finally, close to one hundred Romanian and international NGOs have already been officially acknowledged as consulted parties to the EIA procedure . The EIA procedure pertaining Gabriel's project thus will last for a minimum of 12 months. All costs pertaining the EIA have to be carried by the project sponsor.

According to a recent recommendation (amendment 28) proposed by the EU parliament for Romania, commercial projects having to undergo an EIA procedure will from now on have to meet all relevant EU norms in order to ensure the efficiency or 'effect utile' of EU legislation.

"The renewed delay of Gabriel's EIA is a simple but clear reconfirmation that Gabriel has been clinically dead since long. What's more, the delay will significantly add to this amateurish project's costs. It is now more than ever time for all involved decision makers to acknowledge the human costs already caused by Gabriel's involuntary resettlement program. Based on the EU's legal principle of 'effect utile', this program is illegal and thus can be challenged. This is what we, property owners of Rosia Montana, will do. Contrary to Gabriel Resources, we have all the time in the world," said Eugen David, president of 'Alburnus Maior'.

'Alburnus Maior' is an NGO based in Rosia Montana, Romania. It was founded in September 2000 and represents well over 300 local families from Rosia Montana Commune and another 100 families from Bucium Commune. The overwhelming majority of its' members are subsistence farmers, many having also worked in the mining sector. 'Alburnus Maior' is opposed to Gabriel's project on social, environmental, economic and cultural grounds.

For more information, contact Eugen David on +40 740 280309 or Stephanie Roth and Stefania Simion +40 740 342104. For the PHARE manual and EU legal report visit

Canadian study of Romanian mine's impact gets delayed

By Radu Marinas, Forbes magazine

February 17 2004

Bucharest, Feb 17 (Reuters) - A Canadian company planning to set up Europe's biggest open-cast gold mine in Romania said on Tuesday it may need a few more months to submit an environmental study needed for the government to approve the project.

Gabriel Resources wants to start in 2005 churning out an estimated 500,000 ounces of gold a year, but its plan has faced opposition from environmentalists, archaeologists and local groups, as well as government reluctance. "

The EIA (the environment impact assessement) will be submitted in the coming months," Adrian Dascalu, a spokesman for the Toronto-based mining company, told Reuters. He would not elaborate. The latest delay comes after the firm said in September that the it expected to produce the documentation needed to get the Romanian government's approval within six weeks. In December, it said that the study was due by the end of March 2004.

The gold mine, which is Gabriel's main development, got a provisional green light from a parliamentary committee, but Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said last June his government was reluctant to give final approval because it was environmentally hazardous.

Gabriel owns 80 percent of the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, which was set up to build and operate the mine in Alba Iulia, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital.

In line with EU

The environmental permit, which has to be issued by the Environment Department - an agency within the Agriculture Ministry - is key for the multi-million-dollar project to materialise.

"We'll need six to 12 months to assess their large-scale project, which must observe the European Union's strict norms," Ioan Jelev, director of the Environment Department, told Reuters.

Gabriel said it would submit a study showing its project is in line with EU laws and international conventions."It will also include a chapter making clear that EU legislation has been fully observed," Dascalu said.

Local groups have decried what they have described as the planned destruction of ancient Roman gold mines in the area, the environment and nearby villages. Thousands of locals will need to relocate to make way for drilling sites.

Gabriel has so far obtained 39 percent of all residential properties necessary to start the mine, Dascalu said. The company has pledged to use the latest environmentally friendly technology and has said the project will benefit Romania.

The European Commission unveiled tougher rules on mining firms last year to reduce the risks of environmental disasters caused by waste dumps and the collapse of toxic ponds.

The move was partly prompted by Romania's Baia Mare gold mine disaster in 2000, when waste from a state-owned mine devastated a network of rivers including the Tisza, which starts in Romania and flows into neighbouring Hungary.


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