Letter to European Union President Re: EU Parliamentary Delegation’s postponed visit to Rosia Montana, Romania.- October 2, 2003

Pat Cox, President

The European Parliament
Rue Wiertz PHS 11B11
B - 1047 Brussels, Belgium
Fax: 011 32 2 2849363
E-mail: pcox@europarl.eu.int

2nd October 2003

Re. EU Parliamentary Delegation’s postponed visit to Rosia Montana, Romania.

Dear Mr Cox,

I am writing on behalf of the NGO Working Group on EDC, a Canadian coalition of non-governmental organizations working together to monitor international financial institutions and their projects. Our members include the Canadian Labour Congress, Rights & Democracy, and the West Coast Environmental Law Association. We are also working with a coalition of Romanians opposed to Canadian Gabriel Resources’ proposed open cast gold mine in the Apuseni mountains.

If realized this development would constitute Europe’s largest open cast gold mine and the company plans to employ cyanide leaching to extract the gold, a method typically used for low grade ore. For the project to proceed, over 2000 people must be relocated from Rosia Montana, Romania’s oldest known mining settlement.

In October 2002 the IFC, the World Bank’s private lending arm, rejected supporting the project on social and environmental grounds. In December 2002, the International Council on Monuments and Sites called upon all Romanian and international institutions to act to save Rosia Montana’s unique archaeological treasures from being destroyed by the mining and mine-related activities. Although a conglomerate of Canadian banks proceeded with a bought deal of 15,000,000 common Gabriel shares in late September, another Canadian Bank, RBC, declined to proceed with such a deal. Ten days after the deal fell through, RBC signed on to the Equator Principles, a set of principles that hold banks to following international standards for financing projects that have a detrimental impact on the environment.

Since last spring an EU parliamentary delegation has been scheduled to visit Rosia Montana on October 16, 2003, to comment on this controversial mining project.  The timing of this visit is key as Gabriel also intends to submit their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in October. Despite the absence of an EIA and government go-ahead for the project, Gabriel began relocating the local population last spring. More recently, the company has been pressuring locals to relinquish their property rights to cemetery plots to make way for a huge cyanide tailing pond. For these locals, the EU visit had been anticipated with great hope.

We learned through our Romanian partners that the EU’s October visit to Rosia Montana has been postponed until December 2003. We strongly urge you to reconsider this change, and proceed with your planned visit to the area in mid-October. This visit can still have an important impact on the project and ensure that due environmental and social diligence is met.

Yours sincerely,

Fraser Reilly-King

Coordinator, NGO Working Group on EDC