Action Alert Archives : October 2, 2003



Send a letter to the President of the European Union, urging him to go ahead with a planned visit of EU parliamentarians to Rosia Montana, the potential site of the largest open cast gold mine in Europe!


Since last spring, the European Union has been playing to send a delegation of Parliamentarians to visit Rosia Montana, but in the past few days they have postponed this visit until December. The timing, however, of this visit is key as the Canadian company planning to develop this site will be submitting their Environmental Impact Assessment by the end of the month. Many locals, however, had been hoping to raise concerns with the delegation about issues of health, loss of livelihood, environmental impacts and forced resettlement. December will be too late. The EU remains an important pressure point for Romania given its accession in 2007.


Send a letter urging the President to reconsider the postponement!


What is Rosia Montana?

Gabriel Resources is a junior Canadian mining company with no previous mining experience. It is proposing to build Europe’s largest open cast gold mine on Romania’s oldest known settlement, Rosia Montana. The reserves of gold and silver at Rosia Montana are substantial (10.6 million oz and 52.3 million oz respectively), however the grade is low: 1.4 grams of gold per tonne (g/t) of ore, not much above the level of 1.2 g/t that most people cite as the cut-off for processing at today's prices. 


What is at stake?

Its construction involves tearing down over 900 homes, 750 farms, and 10 churches and their cemeteries. The site of the mine is home to 33 national heritage buildings, including temples, a necropolis, and extensive mine galleries dating from the Dacio-Roman period. Although Gabriel insists there is “strong support” for relocation among its 2000 inhabitants, only a small minority have consented. Alburnus Maior, a local NGO representing 300 families opposed to the project, has amassed a petition of 10,000 signatures regionally and several hundred thousand nationally from people opposed to the project. Over 1000 academics, scientists and institutions have lent their support to the campaign.


Legality of environmental and human rights risks in question.

The mine will clear-cut local forests and create 250 million tonnes of cyanide tailings, using approximately 15.6 million kg of cyanide per year. The official Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has yet to be presented to the Romanian government. The legality of the project with respect to European Union environmental legislation and the basic standards and principles of the European Convention of Human Rights is in doubt. 


Economic Viability is suspect.

The World Bank has rejected any financial involvement in the project. This year the company only had US$30 million in working capital for the project while expenses were estimated at US$65 million. Meanwhile, initial capital costs have increased by 69% from $253 million to $437 million. Gabriel has accelerated the resettlement program in order to cut costs and commence with construction. In July, RBC backed out of a bought deal of 10 million Gabriel shares. Although it still remains unclear exactly why this occurred, ten days later the Bank adopted the Equator Principles (EP) – a set of IFC and World Bank standards that allows the bank to take the environment into account in its financing. Although the EP wouldn’t have applied to this bought deal, RBC perhaps saw the conflict in supporting a project that a year earlier had been rejected by the IFC.


What you can do:

Fax or e-mail a letter to the Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament, and Margot Wallström, EU Commissioner for the Environment urging them to reconsider postponing the visit of the European Union delegation. Use the sample letter as a model. 



The Hon. Pat Cox,


The European Parliament       

Rue Wiertz

PHS 11B11
B - 1047 Brussels, Belgium


Fax: 011 32 2 2849363



Commissioner Margot Wallström

EU Commissioner for the Environment

European Commission

Rue de la Loi 200

1049 Bruxelles

Fax: 011 32 2 298 1899