MAC: Mines and Communities

Gabriel Resources' latest setback: Romanian parliament rejects mining reforms

Published by MAC on 2013-12-11
Source: Statement, Mining.com, Bloomberg (2013-12-11)

Romania's parliament rejects amendments to Romania's mining law to kick-start Rosia Montana

http://www.rosiamontana.org/en/stiri/gabriel-resources-loses-crucial-parliamentary-vote-of-confidence

10 December 2013

Bucharest/Romania - After lengthy debates inside parliament and widespread demonstrations throughout the country, Romania's deputies today rejected a series of amendments designed to kick-start the hugely unpopular Rosia Montana mine development. This decision presents an unprecedented victory to Romania's civil society and a heavy if not mortal blow to Gabriel Resources, the mine project owner. Ahead of today's vote shares of Gabriel Resources had risen by 20% over the weekend.

After sixteen years of intense lobbying and faced with unprecedented local, national and international opposition Gabriel Resources, the Rosia Montana project owner today lost a crucial vote of confidence in Romania's parliament. After lengthy debates inside parliament and widespread demonstrations throughout the country, Romania's deputies today rejected a series of amendments designed to kick-start the hugely unpopular Rosia Montana mine development. The new mining law with its amendments was rejected due to insufficient overall attendance from the part of the deputies with 160 votes for, 22 abstentions and 105 votes against.

In late summer this year Romania's government introduced a law to declare the Rosia Montana mine development of overriding national interest to override legal impasses to e.g. fast-track expropriation and the destruction of cultural monuments. This unconstitutional bill unleashed unprecedented reaction amongst Romania's civil society at home and abroad and earlier this month the government conceded defeat but instead proposed in an opaque manner a fast-track amendment process of Romania's mining law. Today these amendments were rejected by Romania's decisive chamber of deputies due to insufficient overall attendance. Last week the amendments were already rejected by Romania's senate. However, Romania's chamber of deputies is still scheduled formally vote on the bill introduced in late summer.

"Since over sixteen years we have been telling Gabriel Resources' shareholders that their mine is illegal and unwanted. Today's decision confirms this once more and it confirms also the united determination of the Romanian people. Together we will continue to ensure that law and order becomes the norm so that we can build a future for Romania. We might seem poor and irrelevant to the eyes of Gabriel Resources, but there are people and things that are not for sale. Rosia Montana is, was and will never be for sale," concludes Eugen David, president of Alburnus Maior.


Romanian parliament rejects mining law amid protests

Bloomberg

11 December 2013

Romanian Parliament rejected a mining law that would've helped the development of projects including Gabriel Resources Ltd.'s Rosia Montana gold mine, as hundreds of people protested against it.

Lawmakers in Bucharest voted 160 to 105, short of the 204 votes needed to pass the law, which envisaged that mining activities must use the most advanced technologies that don't harm the environment, according to Parliament speaker Valeriu Zgonea.

"I don't know why the law didn't pass, because we made many amendments and it was now a modern law that would allow the development of mining projects in a transparent manner," Crin Antonescu, the head of the liberals and Prime Minister Victor Ponta's coalition ally, told reporters in Bucharest today. "I assume this project won't be re-voted but a new law can be resubmitted, we will discuss."

The law got the endorsement of the special committees of Parliament late yesterday after being rejected by the Senate last month. A few hundred people took to the streets in Bucharest and in Cluj-Napoca, in central Romania, to protest against the law and Gabriel's mining project, according to Realitatea TV.

Gabriel Resources, backed by billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson, threatened to seek as much as $4 billion of damages should Romanian lawmakers vote to oppose its gold mine project in the country, Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Henry said on Sept. 11, adding they have a "robust case."
Gabriel Resources

Gabriel Resources, also backed by Newmont Mining Corp. and BSG Resources Ltd., has spent more than a decade trying to build the $1.4 billion mine amid opposition by campaigners to the use of cyanide to extract gold. It agreed in August to increase the government's stake to 25 percent from about 19 percent and accept a jump in mining royalties to 6 percent from 4 percent.

"The law has been rejected probably because some lawmakers considered we didn't have a proper debate," Antal Istvan, a lawmaker from the Ethnic Hungarians Party and a secretary at the industry committee that endorsed the law yesterday, said in a phone interview. "Normally, if the law is refiled it should resume the parliamentary procedure and it should be discussed in the next parliamentary session."

Lawmaker Iulian Iancu, the head of the industry committee and a member of the ruling social-democrats was quoted as saying by Mediafax that "no mining development will start in Romania without informing the public on all the project's stages and without a transparent auction system."

--Editors: Elizabeth Konstantinova, James M. Gomez


Gabriel Resources' latest setback: Romanian parliament rejects mining reforms

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

10 December 2013

The Romanian Parliament rejected Tuesday revisions to general mining rules that would've helped the development of key projects, including Gabriel Resources (TSX: GBU) Rosia Montana gold mine, Europe's largest open cast gold operation.

According to opposition group Save Rosia, the lower house voted against the new framework 105 to 160, short of the 204 ballots needed to pass amendments to the mining law. These changes would have allowed miners to continue with their projects as far as they used the most advanced technologies to protect the environment.

Several hundreds protesters gathered before the vote outside parliament as well as in the city of Cluj, chanting "Save Rosia Montana" and demanding lawmakers to vote against the revisions to the country's mining law.

Today's setback is only one of the many the Canadian company has suffered lately on its flagship gold and silver project in Romania. Only last week, its subsidiary Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC), made the news because it is being investigated by Romania for alleged money laundering and tax evasion.

For the last year, and with more intensity in the last three months, Romanians have been protesting what they say is an environmentally risky project and a larger problem of political corruption.

Last month a Romanian parliamentary committee rejected the project, forcing Gabriel to push it back several more months, and upping costs to about $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile a group of environmentalists sent Thursday an open letter to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister and members of parliament, demanding the prompt introduction of legislation to make local firms, particularly extractive industry corporations, accountable for proposed projects and actual operations abroad. The group has also requested Ottawa to withdraw its support for Gabriel Resources' project.

The Canadian miner has already spent more than $500 million on the project in a region of Transylvania where mining dates back to the first century, since it first acquired the concession in the late 1990s.


Gabriel's subsidiary probed for money laundering and tax evasion in Romania

Cecilia Jamasmie 

Mining.com

6 December 2013

Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, a Romanian mining company majority owned by Canada's Gabriel Resources, is being investigated for alleged money laundering and tax evasion by local authorities

Rise Project, a member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), reports (Romanian language) that RMCG paid over US$300,000 to Kadok Interprest SRL, a firm that prosecutors say is a phantom company used by an organized crime network based in the Romanian city of Ploiesti.

The news outlet adds that prosecutors discovered the payments in an investigation into the "Păvăleanu network," which resulted in the arrest three weeks ago of Marcel Păvăleanu, an advisor to the Romanian government.

Gabriel's chief executive officer, Jonathan Henry, told Bloomberg that no employee or manager at the unit has been targeted and that the company is "cooperating fully" with the local authorities.

The criminal investigation is the latest of a series of setbacks Gabriel Resources has suffered on its flagship gold and silver project of Rosia Montana. For the last year, and with more intensity in the last three months, Romanians have been protesting what they say is an environmentally risky project and a larger problem of political corruption.

Last November a Romanian parliamentary committee rejected the project, forcing Gabriel to push it back several more months, and upping costs to about $1.5 billion.

The Canadian miner has already spent more than $500 million on the project in a region of Transylvania where mining dates back to the first century, since it first acquired the concession in the late 1990s.


Golddiggers thwarted by Ancient Rome: Romania shelves plans to allow the exploitation of a heritage mining site...

... but the reprieve is likely to be short-lived

Madeleine French

Independent

1 December 2013

A leaked British report into the archaeological significance of an ancient Roman gold mine has helped to scupper plans by the Romanian government to approve invasive mining at the site.

The expert report, kept hidden for three years by the Bucharest government, was commissioned by Romania's ministry of culture and funded by a not-for-profit organisation, Pro Patrimonio, which works to protect Romania's cultural heritage. The report says that the ancient site, in Rosia Montana in the Apuseni Mountains of western Transylvania, is worthy of consideration as a Unesco world heritage site and that its galleries are "the most extensive and most important underground Roman gold mine known anywhere".

This month, the ministry of culture presented a list of monuments that it would like to see included as world heritage sites, but the picturesque village of Rosia Montana, with its ancient galleries that tell of Roman mining, was not on it.

The village sits near one of the largest undeveloped European gold deposits. A Canadian mining company, Gabriel Resources, wants to extract the gold using a method that would reportedly require 40 tons of cyanide daily. Politicians have backed the plans.

In 2010, the town's mayor, Eugen Furdui, admitted: "If Rosia Montana were added to the Unesco world heritage list, that would automatically mean that mining [could not] go through. And we want this mining project to be carried on."

The report's authors - Andrew Wilson and David Mattingly, professors of Roman archaeology at Oxford University and Leicester University respectively, and Mike Dawson, director of archaeology at the environmental consultancy firm CgMs - travelled to the site and were impressed by what they found.

"The key thing we were asked to do was to evaluate the site and see if it was a worthy consideration to be a Unesco world heritage site," Professor Dawson said. "Our opinion is that it has a very high status."

The experts' findings remained unknown until November, when the report was leaked, backing up hundreds of thousands of protesters who had been pressing the Romanian government to drop legislation that would have enabled Gabriel Resources' project to go ahead - destroying villages and mountains.

"I am glad the public [can now see] that information," Professor Dawson said. "It deserves to be out there."

A government commission has now rejected the mining proposal. However, opponents warn that the reprieve is only temporary, as the rejection was based on technical and legislative reasons rather than environmental.

This means that the door remains open for companies such as Gabriel Resources to submit revised proposals. In response to the latest rejection, Jonathan Henry, chief executive of Gabriel Resources, said: "Our goal remains to bring the project through to a reality that will significantly benefit Romania and Rosia Montana."

With the leaking of the British study, it will be difficult for the Romanian government to deny the contribution that the area makes to world culture. But, as Professor Dawson warned, the financial gains from mining are high.

"In my experience, money talks," he said. "If [the report] is criticised, it will be criticised on the basis that conservation costs money."

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