European protests mount around Canadian gold-mine
Ottawa -Â Monday, November 10th, 2003, Today, in major cities across Europe, hundreds of people gathered outside Canadian embassies to protest Canadian Gabriel Resources proposed open cast gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania.
The demonstrations took place in Budapest, Amsterdam, Vienna, Bratislava and Prague. In Bucharest, the protestors demanded that the Canadian Ambassador visit the site in the Apuseni Mountains to see the project's impacts for himself.
"The Canadian government has to act to stop this mine. It will destroy the homes, churches and livelihoods of my people," said Sorana Ciura, a member of Alburnus Maior, the Romanian group spearheading the protests, speaking at a press conference in Canada. Ms. Ciura's family come from Rosia Montana.
The mine will be on the site of Rosia Montana, Romania's oldest known settlement. It will destroy over 900 homes, 750 farms, 10 historic churches and their cemeteries, as well as 33 national heritage buildings and archaeological treasures. Over 1000 academics, church groups, scientists and institutions in Romania and elsewhere have lent their support to the campaign.
"This mining project will contribute little to the economy of Romania, does not meet World Bank standards for resettlement or environmental protection, and will create hardship for the local people," said Joan Kuyek of MiningWatch Canada. "It is one more example of an ill-conceived Canadian mining project ruining Canada's reputation abroad."
Although Gabriel has not yet submitted their Environmental Impact Assessment for the gold project to the Romanian government, the company has been resettling residents since April 2002, accelerating the program in May 2003.
In October 2002, the World Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, rejected the project on environmental and social grounds. A year later, the company has secured a $45 million bought deal through a consortium of Canadian banks and brokers, and is looking elsewhere for financing.
Fraser Reilly-King, of the NGO Working Group on EDC, is concerned that Export Development Canada will consider financing the project.
"Â don't see how even Export Development Canada could finance this project if it truly benchmarks projects against international standards, like the World Bank's," he said, "but then EDC has a bad track record for showing it cares more about business than the environment."
The sixteen year project will destroy a series of pre-roman ruins in order to extract the sizeable amounts of gold and silver. To remain profitable, however, the low grade ore is dependent on a strong gold price.
Contacts: Fraser Reilly-King (613) 789-4447, or Joan Kuyek at 569-3439
Official Canadian Government statement by Gilles Potvin, Canadian Embassy, Bucharest, Romania.
"The Canadian embassy in Bucharest has taken note of the position expressed by opponents, as well as by supporters of the mining project at Rosia Montana. It is normal for large mining projects to raise question marks and for people to express their concerns in a peaceful way. Contrary to common belief, the development of a mining project can be compatible with social development and the protection of the environment.
To be successful, the RM project needs to comply with three essential conditions. First of all, it must be carried out in accordance with environmental and social standards both local and international. In the second place it needs to be economocally viable. Not least, it must have significant support of the affected community.
GR Ltd which holds 80% of the shares of RMGC is a private company with its head office in Toronto. GR must respect Canadian laws, including those that regulate the activities of Canadian companies abroad. The information available to us indicates that GR has operated and continues to operate fully in accordance with all laws and to the highest local and international standards."