Obligatory Rosia Montana post

We yesterday decided that we would not write a single word about either of the day’s big Romanian news stories: the four-year-old boy killed by stray dogs in a Bucharest park and the anti-Rosia Montana gold mine protests currently being held every evening in the centre of the capital.

Well, we resisted about an hour on the dog issue. On Rosia Montana we held out until… now.

We have written about Rosia Montana many times before (this Reuters article from last year is a decent primer for anyone not familiar with the issue). We have always tried to be objective and we think we have – by and large – succeeded. We have at least been consistent in our view of whether or not the gold mining project should go ahead (we think it should, because the people of Rosia Montana itself want it to, and their wishes should come before those of metropolitan liberals).

The current protests – which began on Sunday – are a consequence of the Romanian government’s decision to pass legislation which will finally give the project the green light after almost 15 years of delays. Parliament will vote on the law later this month, and given that both the government and opposition are now broadly in favour, it should pass without any problems. It will then have to be approved by President Traian Basescu, but the president is a long-term supporter of the project and will not block its progress.

What has – not without reason – irked opponents of the mine is that the ruling USL coalition clearly stated in its general election manifesto last year that it would oppose the project. Prime Minister Victor Ponta has made himself look a fool by ridiculously declaring that he is opposed to the gold mine as an MP, but that he is in favour of it in his capacity as prime minister. That’s shocking leadership, although nothing we haven’t come to expect from a young man who looks increasingly out of his depth.

As for the protesters themselves, it would appear that the hardcore, professional anti-Rosia Montana types who have opposed the project for years have now been joined by a strange coalition of anti-capitalists and Romanian nationalists as well as large-numbers of mainly young, part-time protesters for whom this cause is – amongst other things – an excellent chance to show what good and decent people they are.

Their message is simple: Save Rosia Montana. This is where any sympathy we might have for their cause disappears.

We simply do not understand what it is they want to save. Rosia Montana, as anyone who has actually been there (and the vast majority of those protesting have not) will testify, is a shithole: a legacy of industrial neglect dating back decades. If, by ‘saving’ Rosia Montana the protesters are implying that Rosia Montana should stay just as it is, then they are condemning the town and its population to a slow, miserable death. Still, the protesters do not have to live there.

It would therefore be nice to know what plans the protesters have for Rosia Montana in the event that they get what they want and the mine does not open. So far, all we have heard are vague ideas about ‘tourism.’ Could anyone share any fully-formed ideas for Rosia Montana’s future that do not involve mining? We would love to hear about them.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that Traian Basescu has floated the idea of a nationwide referendum on the issue: a simple, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote.

Now, while we do not like referenda in general (people elect politicians to make decisions for them: they do not elect themselves) and think that this is a local and not a national issue, such a vote could be workable compromise. It would give every Romanian a say in Rosia Montana’s future (not to mention the future of the gold under Rosia Montana) and would definitively put a 15 year old argument to bed one way or another. As we assume the protesters will be more than happy with a referendum, should the government not adopt Basescu’s idea?

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  • Promised Land (2012) si Salvati Rosia Montana
    Motto: “Rosia Montana este pamantul de unde s-au nascut doinele, de unde au venit un Brancusi, Enescu, Eminescu, Vuia s.a.”
    De Gabriel Teodor Gherasim
    De cand poporul roman lupta ‘in corpore’ pentru salavarea Rosiei Montana de otravirea cu cianura pe sute de ani, am devenit mai sensibil la semnalele mass-mediei din SUA asupra subiectului: poluare si exploatare de catre corporatiile multi-nationale a tarilor bogate subteran, dar sarace in banii de hartie ai economiilor Occidentale.
    Filmul American Promised Land, 2012 (Tara Fagaduintei), este o reflectie sumbra a ceea ce inseamna profitul corporatiilor pentru tarile a caror guverne nationale au tradat interesele populatiei acelor tari.
    Este vorba de catre un speculant care este angajat de catre o corporatie de gaze ca sa cumpere pamantul de la niste fermieri, sub care se ascund imense zacaminte de gaze naturale.
    Toate-s bune si frumoase pana cand spectatorul afla costul acestor exploatari: otravirea pamantului, a vegetatiei, a animalelor si a oamenilor, pe sute de ani. Deci este o lenta sinucidere a populatiei in folosul extractiei pe baze toxice.
    Fara a da in vileag sfarsitul filmului, putem numai mentiona ca dragostea transforma pe cinicul speculant intr-o persoana care da la iveala toate minciunile corporatiei fata de populatie, inclusiv ca oponentul speculantului din film, presupus ecolog, fusese angajat de catre corporatie ca sa se discrediteze, si prin asta sa duca la o reactie a oamenilor, care sa ii trimita direct in tabara corporatiei (deci a sfarsitului lent pentru sanatatea lor si a tot ce-i inconjoara).
    Filmul a fost primit cu raceala de catre premiile corporatiilor Hollywoodului, respectiv Golden Globe si Oscar, in timp ce The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, o organizatie care premiaza filme cu subiecte de etica si educativa a fost singura organizatie care i-a acordat Premiul I, tot in 2012.
    O idee interesanta care s-a sugerat in film este ca suporterii lui Salvati Rosia Montana sa aiba afise/pancarde cu mesaje de genul: Gabriel Resources Go Home! cu o poza a rezultatului final din asa exploatari langa text, la vedere in ograzi, pe masini, la balcoane, la pravalii, biserici, pe marginea strazilor.
    Poze cu otraviri ecologice sunt destule, din Canada lui Gabriel Resources, in Tarile Scandinave, in America Latina, in Africa sau Asia (inclusiv CA URMARE a exploatarilor lui Gabriel Resources).
    Mai ales ca insusi Gabriel Resources plateste bani grei la televiziuni, radiouri, ziare si forumuri electronice , ca sa apara la stirile video si tiparite ale acestor agentii de presa.
    Aceste afise pot fii facute si contra lui Chevron, mai ales dupa fenomenalul exemplu de Romanism dat de manifestantii de la Pungesti.
    Este pacat ca specialistii care au dat in vileag care ar fii efectele micidiale ale cianurii in pamantul sfant al Tarii noastre au fost dati afara…prin fax, in timp ce plagiatorii “copy paste,” si alti politicieni cu traditie in familie pe trei generatii de tradare a intereselor Tarii, prin predarea resurselor romanesti la straini, sunt cei care au pedepsit astfel…oamenii integri si competenti ai Tarii.
    Ar fii trist ca ceea ce n-au reusit sa sece de resurse (ale Romaniei, NU ale lui Gabriel Resources), Roma de la daci, si ungurii, austriecii, turcii, germanii si rusii de la daco-romani, sa reuseasca o entitate sub un nume fictiv, cu locatie in Canada, dar cu agenda globalista, “multumita” careia in multe tari din lume copiii mor prematur, oamenii se nasc sau devin handicapati, exista bolnavi datorita toxicitatii de la exploatare (si care o sa fie asa cu generatiile), in timp ce pamantul ramane otravit pe sute de ani.
    Promised Land (Pamantul Fagaduintei) este un film care trebuie vazut azi in Romania, pentru ca arata o realitate care ne-ar putea pune in primejdie intreaga existenta ca tara, ca popor, ca oameni, ca si cultura, civilizatie, si pamant, pe sute de ani. Rosia Montana este pamantul de unde s-au nascut doinele, de unde au venit un Brancusi, Enescu, Eminescu, Vuia s.a.
    Pentru mine, este inacceptabil si ca sa stiu ca tatal meu a suferit in inchisorile comuniste pentru libertatea Tarii, si ca el milioane de patrioti si martiri romani, pentru ca sa vad acum cum esalonul II, si III al politrucilor veniti pe tancurile de ocupatie rusesti, vand Tara la corporatiile globaliste, tot asa cum au vandut-o imperiului comunist rusesc.
    Romania nu-i numai a “copiilor copiilor nostri” dar si a “inaintasilor inaintasilor nostri”. A permite otravirea pamantului cu cianura echivaleaza cu tradarea fata de tot ce inseamna Tara noastra, neamul nostru, si sangele din sangele nostru.
    Gabriel Teodor Gherasim
    Author Victimele Comunistilor si Persecutorii Lor
    You Tube:

    Eseu:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/gherasim01.htm#

  • marius

    Interesting post. Would also be interesting to know what the writer thinks about the protests now, if anything changed abt his point of view. I am now at the famous House of Parliament in Bucharest, getting ready for the human chain around it.
    I respect opinions and arguments. What I did not like in this article the most was the term ‘shithole’ for RM. Probably an opinion formed by watching tv stations that are living from RMGC ad money. Hundreds of Roman and pre-roman mining galeries, the oldest mining site recorded in Romania, etc. Beautiful landscapes. And a lot more, all easily accesible on google.

    • No my opinions were formed by visiting Rosia Montana and seeing how the peasants there live. The land is poor, the river heavily polluted and the air is thick with sheer desperation. Idyllic it is not.

      As for the protests, I still see primarily young people in fashionable clothes clutching expensive phones. These have been joined recently by others on expensive bikes, and by young parents who see a demonstration as a fine family outing.

      I still fail to see ordinary working – or unemployed – people joining the demonstrations.

      Finally, it’s worth recalling the words of Chairman Mao: a revolution is not a dinner party…

      • Giuseppe

        Funny you should mention Chairman Mao and that quote 😀

        I was reading something about China today and came across that very same quote.

        • It is the first quote in the Little Red Book.

          • Giuseppe

            Better brush up on the Little Red Book then… 🙂 there’s a distinct possibility I’ll be working for a Chinese company in the near future.

            • Very off topic now but it is packed with sound, rather pragmatic advice on a whole host of issues. Unless I dreamt it the Economist published a supplement last Christmas about how it was back in favour amongst young Chinese managers and was greatly influencing contemporary Chinese management styles. I got my hardback special edition copy at a wonderfully subversive bookshop called Collett’s on the Charing Cross Road. It sadly didn’t survive long after the end of the Cold War which I guess gives away where it got its funding from (selling copies of ‘The DDR Today’ could not have been too profitable).

  • Irina

    “It would therefore be nice to know what plans the protesters have for Rosia Montana in the event that they get what they want and the mine does not open”.

    Here are our plans for Rosia Montana. We will protest until:
    – The Parlament rejects the new project of law. It this project gets approved, every citizen’s right to property can be broken.
    – The Government decides in urgency to reject the environment authorization and to interdict by law the use of cyanide in Romania’s mining activities.
    – Rosia Montana gets enlisted in the UNESCO Patrimony.

    I have been at Rosia Montana. I assure you the area is not a shithole, but it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. And the people are not that poor. There are many businesses in Rosia Montana and in the surroundings, that have hundreds of employees and that would be very much affected if the mining project is going to start.

    There are many alternatives for sustainable development in Rosia Montana. Tourism, agriculture, European projects.

    I am an employee with a BS and a Master Degree in Computer Science. I am saying this so that you must understand that every citizen can feel reluctance towards this project, not only hipsters or the kind of people you imply the protesters are.

    I protest against the mining project because of the environmental preposterous damage it would cause, because of the unlawful way the mining company has been continually pushing for the project to start, because the Government has agreed on this special and unconstitutional law.

    • Thanks for your comments. A couple of points: Is Rosia Montana really worthy of a UNESCO listing? Are there not several other Romanian sites which warrant listing before RM? Anyway, even it is, that’s not something the government can easily arrange as far as I know. It has to be a UNESCO decision. As for agriculture in RM: no. The land is poor and very little of any worth grows there. Besides, is proposing agriculture as a solution in this day and age not a little regressive? After all, small-scale peasant farming means that the people doing the farming have to live as peasants, with a peasant’s income. Forever. Would you be prepared to live that life? (Fair play to you if the answer is yes!)

      Finally, why does development have to be sustainable? Most development worth having is anything but.

      • Craig, agriculture doesn’t have to be so regressive, especially if combined with other activities of production, which will increase the value, by offering a final quality product. There is some potential in any piece of land. That one doesn’t promise much, but no need to try growing cereals or vegetables on it. Actually these products offer almost no profit at all, unless you use the cereals to grow animals and you sell the meat.
        One of the most profitable cultures might be these wild berries that I can’t translate “catina”; one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C + other goodies and it’s a very efficient tonic, imuno-stimulator, etc. This plant is robust and grows anywhere in RO, on almost any type of soil, even soil mixed with sand, on hills and mountains. If transformed into oils, brings a very good profit, I mean thousands of euro / 1 ha. Export it to countries like Finland, where they need this type of diet, loads of vitamin C, as their classical sweets are: wild berries puree with fat milk. It’s just an example, there are more; i’m not specialist.
        Of course this berry can’t save Rosia Montana alone, but I wish people would be more willing to take risks, work really hard and think before working, maybe fail, try again, etc.
        Because we can’t just wait forever and hope that some visionary politician will come out of nowhere with a clear and bold vision for development.
        I’ve been to the protests because I don’t like the numbers, don’t trust them with cynide; don’t like abuse of power and that law; but also because i was curious to see who are the people coming to protest. I have a little hope that, in time, they might take a step further, come up with a vision, platform, a party, a new option to vote for. Even it’s too soon for that, I keep a little hope. No, development can’t be sustainable, for me it’s clear; but i would like to see more responsibility, transparency and honesty and less greed.

        • ibz

          In some people’s view growing your own food or buying food from a farmer is regressive, and people should be “dragged into the modern world”, which means depending on government help for finding an insecure job which will allow you to buy industrially produced food. That’s their view on modernity, and you can’t change that. Some people will be forever stuck in the way they used to think 50 years ago. And no, you can’t “drag” them into modern thinking.

  • ibz

    RMGC themselves seem to promote the idea that tourism is a viable solution, on their website. How funny is that? 🙂 http://www.rmgc.ro/proiectul-rosia-montana/patrimoniu/trasee-turistice-in-zona-turistica-rosia-montana.html

  • Giuseppe

    Some of the media is now claiming that George Soros is involved in the backing of these protests. I’ve seen no proof that it is true, but it is an interesting possibility. It wouldn’t be very surprising if it was true, considering his track record.

    In the meantime, another major gold mining project – Certej in Hunedoara – seems to be going largely under everyone’s radar. Funnily enough, the company behind the project, Eldorado Gold, is also Canadian and has certain links to Gabriel Resources.

  • Great piece about the Rosia Montana protests going on here in Bucharest! These “hipsters” are the ‘new’ Romania, the future of the country who have taken corrupt politicians and ex-communist elites by surprise:

    https://medium.com/better-humans/9ee7d4af363f

    • ‘These Hipsters are the new Romania?’

      God I hope not. They make the church look tolerant.

      • Well, they are the new, well educated generation who have largely gone unseen as they are not fitze or from ex-communist families. I have always felt there to be this huge gap in Bucharest. During the day as I walk about I often encounter oafish communist-era officials and suspicious men in suits driving black Mercedes and then somehow at night at various bars and cafes all these young hipster Romanians appear seemingly out of nowhere.

        • ibz

          You guys probably weren’t around in ’89. When students were out on the streets protesting, they used to be called “golani”. Now the same kind of people are out there, and they are called “hipsters”. The history is repeating itself. This time we might have a real revolution, unlike the one in ’89. That’s how revolutions start, you know … with hooligans and hipsters, not with obedient and brainwashed people.

          • Andy H

            Damn. I write something then come here and find myself nearly in agreement with Davin. I obviously need to go back and rethink. 🙂

            http://szekely.blogspot.ro/2013/09/democracy-and-rosia-montana.html

            I wanted to finish this off with “I, for one, welcome our new hipster overlords” but I wasn’t sure if anyone would get the reference.

            • @Andy H, I must enjoyed your blog post!

            • Giuseppe

              My gut feeling is that these protests exist only to further some obscure political agenda and were orchestrated to target a certain audience and draw them out in the street; I very much doubt they were born spontaneously.

              But that’s just me being a cynic.

  • Flor

    Caring about miners in RM? Why do you wish them this:
    http://rightsaction.org/action-content/serious-health-crisis-siria-valley-honduras-caused-goldcorp-inc/ which happens in every mining project, see Marlin/Gutemala, Ovacik/Turkey, Yellowknife/Canada and now cyanide-rid Montana/Usa? Who could support a project disqualified by every authority (Romanian or not) having analyzed it: economists (ASE study) scientists (Romanian Academy, AdAstra), legal (Ro Ministry of Justice), environmental assessors (Bob Moran analysis of “sharade” EIA), romanian courts of law where RMGC lost tens of court battles?

    • Mining is a risky occupation: that’s precisely one reason we owe mining communities around the world so much. Everything we have is owed to those brave men and women.

  • Giuseppe

    I’ll go ahead and say it outright: I think that deciding to just sit on that gold for the next few decades or centuries (or forever?!) is just about the stupidest thing that we could do.

    Finland, a country with a much stronger economy and with environmental policies that put ours to shame, opened an open-pit gold mine not 5 years ago. And yes, they use cyanide. As a Finnish EP said: “I do not support a move to ban the use of cyanide totally but I would certainly encourage strict environmental controls with the best available technology and closed processes.”

    I think that’s a fair and balanced attitude to have when it comes to gold mining. We definitely shouldn’t go for profit at all cost and sacrifice safety, nor should we go for tree-hugging nationalistic BS that is so far removed from economic and social realities that it might as well be part of a work of fiction.

    The contract itself… I don’t need to have access to the whole damned thing to know that it’s obviously shady and it obviously hasn’t been written with Romania’s best interests in mind. This means that, for all intents and purposes, it should be broken. However the question arises: how much would breaking this contract cost us? Because if the government gets sued and we end up paying billions of dollars in damages, it’s pretty clear breaking the contract is not an option. I’m not saying that billions in damages is going to happen, but if it does happen it won’t be just ten thousand young corporatists and socialites from Universitate that end up paying for it… if you get my meaning. It’s just something to keep in mind.

    Speaking of the socialites and corporatists – the so called man in the street, I have to wonder and maybe someone could clarify this for me: how many of them have actually been to Rosia Montana? How many of them could actually place it on a map of Romania? How many of them know the first thing about gold mining? How many of them are aware that, as we speak, cyanide is already used to extract gold in Romania and has been used pretty much since the cyanide process became the industry standard many decades ago? Are they also shouting “Save Bozanta Mare” for example (or any of a number of sites affected in some way by gold mining), or is Rosia Montana a special case because the topic is cool and ‘teh internetz’ are raving about it?

    I hear they’re now adding hydraulic fracturing to the protest, another cool topic. If they’re truly as concerned about the environment as they think they are, perhaps they should tackle other environmental topics which haven’t gained as much (any?) attention on the facebooks and tweeters. You know, give the whole protest some real substance. Create awareness.

    Finally, I’m the first one when it comes to giving the government, past and present, the middle finger. I think they’re scum the lot of ’em. However, if a few thousands probably protesters start dictating government policies… that somehow doesn’t strike me as very democratic. There’s a reason why there’s such a thing as the concept of representative democracy. You vote your person of choice and whoever is elected has a mandate to act and decide on your behalf. You can’t change policies every time a few thousand decide to take to the streets, nor can you rely on referendums for every decision. That’s what elected representatives are for. But for that to work, you must elect good representatives.

    What I’m saying is that if we actually want to change things, we’d better stop voting for the same crooks every time. That be a start, wouldn’t it? Stop voting for the same bast*rds?

    And, of course, we need a new political force, a new generation of politicians, an alternative. Turn these protests into a movement and perhaps you’ll have the makings of such a force. That’s something I’d be glad to support, even join. But for that you need a lot more than a few chants, witty placards and plastic bottles banged against the ground.

    Who am I kidding? Never gonna happen. Enough post-midnight ramblings.

    • Phil

      Post-midnight ramblings or not, I think that was about the most coherent thing I’ve read on the topic.

      • Yep, he nailed it, particularly the part about ‘if a few thousand protesters start dictating government policies… that somehow doesn’t strike me as very democratic’.

        Give the mob what they want and they will only want more. It does not end well. What next will they demand? I already see that they want a ban on fracking. No doubt demands for a ban on double glazing, closed balconies and going to church will not be far behind.

        • ibz

          Democracy is broken. As long as votes are bought with money that comes from the richest and most powerful you can’t have real democracy. The “hipsters” that are now fighting for Rosia Montana are just an alarm signal that the supposedly democratic mechanisms in this society are broken. You argue that we shouldn’t be protesting for RM because RM is just one of the many issues? How about put it another way – RM is just the tip of the iceberg of all the issues we have, so the more people become aware of the whole mess behind RM, the more people will question other parts of the system, the closer we get to realizing that ’89 was not really a revolution and the closer we get to starting a revolution now. I think it’s great that protests are focused on RM now rather than being unfocused on everything that is broken in the country – which wouldn’t lead anywhere. Our leaders know that and they are shitting their pants right now – that’s why they are backing off on RM, to keep us quiet before it’s too late.

          • Democracy may well be broken, but replacing it with the rule of a small, elitist mob who do not represent the majority of Romanians is no solution.

            • ibz

              That’s exactly what I say in my comment – that the majority is irrelevant because it is brainwashed.

        • ibz

          Saying that the RM protests are a bunch of rich hipsters that are unaware of the real issues in this country is like saying that the protests in Turkey were because a park was supposed to be destroyed and a bunch of hipster environmentalists didn’t like that, while ignoring the much bigger issues in the country. Sure, you could put it that way, and that means you really didn’t understand anything from what happened…

          • Romania’s biggest problem remains entrenched poverty, both urban and – particularly – rural. Are the protesters addressing that? No. Why? Because it is difficult if not impossible to understand what genuine poverty is when you are well fed, well dressed and carrying an iPhone. Only the working class can lead the working class.

            • ibz

              You are wrong. Poverty is not the problem, poverty is the consequence of an underlying problem – that of our leaders + EU (at the same time, but not together) shutting down our industry, hindering our agriculture and raping our country. If poverty were the problem, it would mean that you could solve that by simply giving free money to poor people. Is that what you are implying? When you feel pain, are you taking painkillers or looking of what is wrong with your body?

            • ibz

              Considering that most of Romania’s 30+ year olds are at most the 2nd generation to grow up in a city, I beg to differ. Most 30 year olds with iPhones have (had) grand parents in the countryside and understand what living in a Romanian village means better than some outside observer, that just *assumes* that outside toilets are villagers’ biggest pain, and had they money to build an indoor toilet their standard of living would increase dramatically.

              • It is more than that. The very fact that they are subsistence farmers at all is a sign of poverty. Add in the fact that many have to do so without too many modern inventions (tractors, harvesters etc.) and it becomes doubly so.

                • ibz

                  Subsistence farming is a sign of poverty? Who said that? People I know are farmers because they choose to – they prefer the freedom and quality of life you get from being a farmer rather than working in a factory just for paying your rent in a crowded and dirty city. They are not making tons of money, but they are growing their own food, being their own boss and live a healthier life than most people in the city. If that’s a sign of poverty for you, you are living in a dream world…

                  • That’s the people you know, people who have made a choice. Most subsistence farmers do not have that choice, and those that do almost always choose city over country: just look at global rural to urban population shifts over the past 50 years. The moment people can get off the land they usually do.

                    • ibz

                      This is 2013. Most people do have the choice. The problem with the city is … jobs. If you want to live in a city you need a job. And there are no jobs these days. Unless you are really good at some sort of intelectual work, and most people are not.
                      How is the trend of the last 50 years relevant to Romania in 2013? You are comparing the trend during industrial boom to the situation after the bubble has burst.
                      How about you look at the trend in the last 5 years in Romania? Rural to urban ratio has increased.

          • Geronimo

            I think this is the most intriguing part of the whole debate. Is this really a case of Romanians “waking up”, led by a middle class, modern elite? And Rosia Montana is just a catalyst for this, taking on much bigger, more symbolic value than the issue itself?

            I hope so.

        • Phil

          I never got the idea of tourism saving Rosia Montana. Romania has a comparatively low number of tourists because there is no mass appeal (cheap seaside resorts, proper ski resorts, well known culture, must-see sights for Americans and Japanese). The proposals for Rosia Montana don’t seem to be any different. It would be interesting to some people, maybe including me, but surely a rather small number and unlikely to generate much money. What are your thoughts on that, Craig?

          I also note the protests are pretty small, as last year when Boc resigned. What on earth would they do if people turned out in numbers??

      • “most coherent”? Oh, boy!

    • ” Finland, a country with a much stronger economy and with environmental policies that put ours to shame, opened an open-pit gold mine not 5 years ago.”

      Are you really comparing Kittilä in Finland to Roşia Montană in Romania? Do you honestly think that you can compare a remote village in the northernmost region of Finland, close to the Arctic Circle and by far the least densely populated area in Finland (population density is 1.8/km²) to a village in the area with the largest number of towns and villages in Romania and with a population density of 52/km²?

      In case of an environmental disaster (which, by the way, you also agree that is much more possible in Romania than in Finland) which population do you think would have to suffer most? You don’t need to answer, obviously it’s a rhetorical question…

      • Giuseppe

        It was not a comparison, it was an example. I’m sure you can figure out the difference.

        • In this case, what was the relevance of your example? I thought you brought this example to prove your point. Now I understand that you just brought it for no reason… 🙂

          • Giuseppe

            You understand wrong. The relevance of the example is to show there is nothing inherently evil in the use of cyanide in mining. It’s how (safely) you use it that matters.

    • ”We definitely shouldn’t go for profit at all cost and sacrifice safety, nor should we go for tree-hugging nationalistic BS that is so far removed from economic and social realities that it might as well be part of a work of fiction.”

      You obviously have no idea what Roşia Montană represents for Romania’s history, culture, patrimony and I’m afraid your comment smells a little from the BS you refer to. I don’t think it would be productive to explain the importance of Roşia (OMG, I still don’t believe you compared it to Kittilä!). If you were really interested in writing an informed comment, you would have read Octavian Matei’s comment (#31 below).

      Do you think they would level the Vatican if they would find there’s gold to dig out? Do you think they would demolish Buckingham Palace or the Westminster Abbey if there would be gold under the ground? What’s your price to sell the history, culture, patrimony? Let me guess: 30 pieces of gold?

      • Giuseppe

        I’m only interested in mining that gold if it’s done in accordance with European and Romanian laws and best practices. If they prohibit the mining, then it obviously shouldn’t happen.

    • ”if the government gets sued and we end up paying billions of dollars in damages, it’s pretty clear breaking the contract is not an option.”

      First of all, Romania risks nothing for RMGC’s illegalities which over the years have been sanctioned through final and irrevocable court decisions. The mining project proposed by Gabriel Resources breaks several provisions in the current legislation and this is the reason why the company never received the green light after 14 years of rewriting and “improving” their project (it is also the reason for the government’s stupid idea to come up with a “special law”, custom-made for RMGC, which breaks many provisions in the current laws and in the Romanian Constitution).

      And by the way, until now Romania has won all litigations at the Washington International Trade Tribunal (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes). And because of all the illegalities on RMGC’s side, this one will probably be a piece of cake.

      The only thing that makes me mad is that the corrupt politicians will still make money, because guess who would represent RMGC in a possible legal action against Romania (“Ghici ghicitoarea mea”, if I may quote another well-known and well-hated Romanian politician): Dan Şova’s step mother…

      No matter what happens, they will still make a load of money 🙁

      • Giuseppe

        If what you say is correct and Romania risks nothing, then all I can say is: great, break the damned contract. I’m not here to defend its merits, as I suspect it has none.

    • ”how many of them have actually been to Rosia Montana? How many of them could actually place it on a map of Romania? How many of them know the first thing about gold mining? How many of them are aware that, as we speak, cyanide is already used to extract gold in Romania and has been used pretty much since the cyanide process became the industry standard many decades ago?”

      The answer is that not all of them, but many. But here’s an idea: Why don’t you come in the street and ask us? Who knows, you might enjoy the experience… 🙂

      • You know I had planned to, but I have been away. If they stay out I might well join them for an evening: I do want to know what their next demands will be…

    • ”I hear they’re now adding hydraulic fracturing to the protest, another cool topic.”

      I don’t know about its coolness, but I know it’s a very serious and important topic. Too bad you haven’t understood this.

        • ibz

          I’d rather err on the “don’t” side than on the “do” side. We can always revisit this amazing opportunity later, when resources will be even more scarce. There’s still plenty of traditional gas reserves in Russia. They don’t sell it cheap, but neither will Chevron. Oh, there’s still plenty of gas in Romania too, but that’s already being exported, so not much chance to become “energy independent” with our own resources.

        • I can’t believe you give me this BS by the McAleer- McElhinney couple. Oh, brother! 🙁

        • I guess it’s OK for me to answer in a similar manner: Gasland and Gasland 2

          • Gasland has been largely discredited. The crucial scene is one in which a guy lights his tap water, purportedly because of fracking. What the film maker fails to mention is that in that area (and many others in the area) people have been lighting their water for centuries: it is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

      • Giuseppe

        There are plenty of other very serious environmental topics in Romania, beyond the popular ones that everyone and their mother knows about. I hope to see them tackled as well.

    • ”if a few thousands probably protesters start dictating government policies… that somehow doesn’t strike me as very democratic.”

      True, but how else can you stop them to adopt a “special law” written by the corporation and for the corporation? We already have a Constitution and laws regulating the mining project, there was no need for such a bad move from Ponta and his gang. Oh, wait a minute, let me guess: you probably thought that “special law” and its creation to be very democratic? That bill infringes the Romanian constitution, human rights and runs against the principle of the division of power and against the soverignity of justice. How can that be democratic?

      ”What I’m saying is that if we actually want to change things, we’d better stop voting for the same crooks every time. That be a start, wouldn’t it? Stop voting for the same bast*rds?”

      Well, we finally agree on something! 🙂

      • Giuseppe

        You guessed wrong.

  • Giuseppe

    Judging by these protests, one would assume that Rosia Montana is Romania’s first, largest and only environmental problem. 😀

    While I’m sure most of the people protesting are genuine in their feelings of environmental concern, the cynic in me knows that whoever got these protests going is in someone’s pocket.

    • Well it looks as though it’s all over now anyway. Ponta the spineless goon has been sent running for cover at the first whiff of public protest. And be warned: that a few thousands rich kids with iPhones can now dictate government policy is cause for concern.

      • Giuseppe

        …and the protests are not yet over judging from what I saw on TV.

      • ”Well it looks as though it’s all over now anyway.”

        You’re wrong, we’re not over. Our protests will continue until:

        – the Parliament’s Chambers – the Senate and the Deputy Chamber – will reject through vote the law proposal;
        – the Government will imediatelly reject through governmental decision the environmental permit for the Roşia Montană gold mine;
        – Roşia Montană will be included on Romania’s Tentative List for UNESCO;
        – Cyanide use in mining will be strictly forbidden;
        – the immediate resignation of the special bill’s initiators: minister for big investments (Dan Şova), minister for the environment (Rovana Plumb), minister for culture (Daniel Barbu) and the director of Romania’s Agency for Mineral Resources (Gheorghe Duţu).

        The protests will continue until our demands will be answered. A new global action call was announced for September 15th, 2013. Stay tuned! 🙂

  • Dear Craig

    I am rather confused about this statement you made:

    “One point I totally reject is that the mine will destroy the community of Rosia Montana. It will not: it will save it. If the mine does not go ahead then the community is doomed.”

    I was under the impression that the entire village of RM will be relocated and the whole area will be dug up and processed. Isn’t that correct? In which case there will be no village to save.

    Also, I am confused about mining itself. When I was a kid mining used to be about digging a hole in the ground, developing underground galleries and sending ore to the surface. Why does it now involve the demolition of mountains (and local ecosystems)?

    If the project were limited to the RM village itself any environmental damage would be limited. My fear is that all the cyanide involved will leak into underground water reserves and the atmosphere.

    Did you know that only 1000 tons of cyanide is used in all of the EU every year? The RM project plans to use 13,000 tons of cyanide — every year. I don’t know how it will be handled but surely some dust will escape every day and there will be runoff every time it rains. My fear is that the water supply of the region could be compromised.

    I’m also sceptical that the investor will pay any taxes at all. Nobody knows what their tax rate is as the contract is a state secret. And there is so much expertise around about avoiding taxes that I don’t see why they would. You can see more about this issue on this excellent video here: http://tegenlicht.vpro.nl/backlight/tax-free-tour.html

    Finally, I think the RM area is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen in Romania (the former mine is a tiny area) and I would love to buy a house there if I could only afford it.

    • It is not the whole village which has to be relocated, just parts of it (and not the most historic buildings in the main square). What I need to see is a viable alternative to the mining project: I have yet to see one. Agriculture is not an option (the land in the area is poor). Also, while the area in general – if not the town – is indeed picturesque, don’t forget that the river is awfully polluted (after centuries of mining). Who is going to clean it up? I am not suggesting RMGC will, by the way. But the mine does buy the town time, if only 10-15 years. Better than nothing in my view. But I come back to my initial point: I support this project not out of conviction or spite or because RMGC pay me (if only!) but because the people of Rosia Montana support it. If that changes then so will my opinion.

      • The people of Rosia Montant do not support it. There are a group that have been brainwashed / bought off by the mining company and there are a group who actively oppose the mining company (despite unrelenting pressures … bordering on outright violence).

        When its suits your argument you preach “Sometimes people have to be dragged into the modern world”. Yet when it comes to the brainwashed people of Rosia Montana you are happy to have them decide. Which is it?

        • The referendum last year would suggest otherwise.

      • Mr Rearguard

        13,000 tons of deadly crap, fack me sideways!!!!! And the Turpster supports this? I can only guess the locals are all on 60 cigs a day and washed down with 4 packs of Eight Ace! No wonder they don’t care about their own health.
        ps. I am sure that this iffy Canadian firm will bring in their own people to work the mines. Lets face it, the locals there don’t know diddly squot about cyanide and all the latest tricks of modern mining. Tipping up on a Monday morning with a prehistoric shovel and a pick axe aint gonna cut it with these Canadians.

      • I’ve spoken to people in the village and they say it will be impossible to live there if the mine starts as they will be using dynamite all day every day, for 15 years. They will be rained down constantly with dust and probably with cyanide dust too. Not a great basis for an idyllic village life.

        My main concern is regional: what effect will 13,000 tons of cyanide being released into the environment have on the wider region? How much does it take to poison the groundwater? I don’t think anyone knows.

        A viable plan for tourism development could be made IF money were invested in it. It’s a beautiful area.

    • Like you I thought buying land in Rosia Montana was an option. Turns out it isn’t … its not even about money. Any land that was available was already land-grabbed by the mining company.

      Also I’ve been told that it is illegal to sell land in the area for any other purpose then mining (the sole legally designated purpose of the area). That means that even if one of the families who still owns lands were to agree to sell you a parcel they wouldn’t be able to do so.

  • Dan

    You visited, you say?
    You’re full of shit, I say.

    • Yep. January 2001. And no, RMGC did not pay me to go there. I went there to translate for an English journalist: he paid me 🙂

    • Geronimo

      Eh? What’s so hard to believe? Why would he lie?

  • Octavian Matei

    What it is they want to save? Well, 4 mountains, the ancient roman galleries, some very old buildings in Rosia Montana, archaeological sites, the ecosystem of that specific area and above all they want to save the natural resources of precious metals of high economic value as Gold, Silver, Gallium, Titanium, Germanium, Arsenic, Molybdenum, Vanadium, Nickel, Chromium, Cobalt from being “stolen” from their country with a profit share of just 20% for Romania.

    The reasons for the protests are:

    1. The gold mine’s proposed mine life of 17 to 20 years is not a solution for sustainable development and does not solve the area’s social and economic problems. They would even be amplified after mine closure. The number of jobs estimated during the operational period of the mine is less than 500. This does not solve the local need for jobs and is even less than the number of jobs at the current state-owned exploitation (ca. 750). The area needs long-term economic solutions based on renewable resources and in accordance with the types of investments encouraged in the European Union.

    2. The destruction of the Rosia Montana community – with a history of well over 2000 years – by resettling the population, demolishing houses (including historical monuments) and churches as well as resettling cemeteries is unacceptable and is reminiscent of a period everybody thinks is over.

    3. The economic benefits for the Romanian state (estimated at around 40 to 50 millions per annum) represented by a 2% royalty tax and other taxes are insignificant compared to the project’s consequences.

    4. The forced relocation and resettlement of the population refusing to sell their properties, which is anticipated at Rosia Montana, risks to engage the Romanian state in difficult legal positions vis-à-vis international (European) institutions. This is likely to provoke consequences which may be difficult to anticipate now but need to be seriously analyzed by competent authorities.

    5. Open cast mining at four open pits and the creation of a tailings pond held by a 180m high dam over the so-called Corna valley would seriously mutilate the landscape. The actual open cast copper mine at Rosia Poieni as well as other open cast exploitations in Romania clearly show the environmental consequences provoked by such operations.

    6. The proposed dam, made of waste rock, does not guarantee to withstand extreme conditions. Case studies from all over the world show that this is where severe accidents occurred during mine operations. The presence of the tailings pond and dam in the immediate vicinity of Abrud represents a huge risk. There exists no guarantee that an accident can not occur. Holding accountable those responsible after an accident would not solve anything.

    7. The proposed gold mine seriously endangers the archaeological area of Alburnus Maior, which is unique in the world and of great cultural and historical value. The destruction – even partial – of the antique Roman mine galleries is completely unacceptable in a country which honors its roots and past.

    8. The use of sodium cyanide in the technological process and the discharges into the tailings pond which contain leftovers of cyanide (which are also potentially toxic) following the “neutralizing” process as well as heavy metals are of serious concern. The tailings’ toxicity remains a source of severe risks this even if the “neutralizing of cyanide” would employ modern technologies.

    9. There are no guarantees that when the works are finished and the mine is closed the investor would cover the costs for environmental rehabilitation. Experience from other countries (i.e. USA) shows that the costs for environmental rehabilitation can not be covered by the financial guarantees deposited by the investors. The current global trend is to prevent pollution and not to try to rehabilitate the environment after it has been polluted by substances and materials harmful for human beings and the environment.

    10. The mine proposal violates a series of conventions and norms stipulated by European legislation. Faced with similar proposals, other countries have been more cautious and have refrained from accepting the risks involved. Documents prove that in Germany such projects are even impossible to envisage. In Bulgaria and Armenia recent projects of this type have not been approved.

    11. There are significant fears of illegalities already committed during the preparatory stages of the mine. Recent court decisions have confirmed some of these fears. The issuing of archeological discharges for surfaces larger than the ones effectively researched, the hasty change of Rosia Montana’s statute into an “industrial area” and thus impeding potential economic activities (such as rural and cultural tourism) are all serious law violations that need to be investigated.

    That’s the statement of Romanian Academy regarding the Rosia Montana mine proposal.

    • The Romanian Academy lives in Rosia Montana does it?

      There is no doubt that more than a couple of these points have validity, not least the rather paltry amount of money which will go to the Romanian state in the event of the project going ahead. The property issue is also rather worrying, although compulsory purchase orders are nothing new in any country.

      One point I totally reject is that the mine will destroy the community of Rosia Montana. It will not: it will save it. If the mine does not go ahead then the community is doomed.

      I also have another point: I hear a lot that the people of Rosia Montana should not have the final say because ‘it is Romania’s gold, not theirs.’

      To those people I pose this question: If gold (or oil or anything else for that matter) was found in your courtyard, on your land, would it be Romania’s? Or yours?

      • Nicole

        Ok, so you’re implying any of them owns those mountains? Like legally and stuff, signed on a paper black and white? According to your logic…nobody should benefit from it. Problem solved.

        • No, that’s the protesters’ logic…

          • Nicole

            I quote: “I hear a lot that the people of Rosia Montana should not have the final say because ‘it is Romania’s gold, not theirs.’

            To those people I pose this question: If gold (or oil or anything else for that matter) was found in your courtyard, on your land, would it be Romania’s? Or yours?”

            By this statement you imply it, not the protesters. It is not in those people’s backyard. It is in the mountains. None of those people own the mountains. The mountains belong to our nature, country, the world.. whatever works for you. Let me ask you a question. Might something happen as it did in Baia Mare.. Is it also only their problem? Flawed thinking you have.

      • “I hear a lot that the people of Rosia Montana should not have the final say because ‘it is Romania’s gold, not theirs.’

        To those people I pose this question: If gold (or oil or anything else for that matter) was found in your courtyard, on your land, would it be Romania’s? Or yours?”

        It would be Romania’s. According to Art. 136 (3) of the Romanian Constitution, “The mineral resources of public interest, the air, the waters with energy potential that can be used for national interests, the beaches, the territorial sea, the natural resources of the economic zone and the continental shelf, as well as other possessions established by the organic law, shall be public property exclusively.”

        Get it?

        • In itself interesting: why, I would therefore ask, do we pay for water?

          • ibz

            You don’t pay for water, you pay for the service of having water pumped to your apartment. I have a well in my garden and I don’t have to pay for that water. YET. Unless they start fracking nearby and suddenly consider the water in that area is of “national interest”. In that case I will need to pay for it.

          • I was going to reply, but ibz beat me to it. Well done, ibz!

      • “The Romanian Academy lives in Rosia Montana does it?”

        Wow, this is way too lame, Craig 🙁 Guess what: the following don’t live in Rosia Montana either:

        – Dennis Rodwell
        – Terry Mudder
        – Eddie O’Hara
        – IGIE (Independent Group of International Experts)
        – Norwegian Geotechnical Institute
        – University of Alba Iulia

        What do they all have in common? These are RMGC’s experts.

      • Octavian Matei

        Pfff you’re so wrong!
        1. Romanian Academy doesn’t need to live there. That’s one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard. Romanian Academy is an institution. And it’s members are scientists, including geologists, economists, chemists, engineers. So they really know what they are talking about. The people who live there are bought by the corporation (most of them) and they don’t know what are they talking about, because they are not having a clue about chemistry, geology, ecology, hydrology or economy. They are simple people who care only about themselves and their families and they don’t care about the future, they are fooled that they will have a place to work. They don’t see the lies of the Gold Corp.

        2. The project won’t save anything, because it won’t give them jobs. It will be only 2000 jobs for a limited period of 2 years, the construction period. After that, the Gold Corp says it will be only 500 jobs because they are working with modern equipment which needs fewer people. And don’t tell me that 500 jobs will save a community of thousands. And about those 500 jobs, I doubt it, cause that kind of exploitation involves chemistry and modern equipment and I don’t think the locals are chemists or know how to use that modern equipment they are talking about.

        3. The community it’s doomed because our beloved corrupted politicians declared that area monoindustrial. That’s killing anything else but mining.

        4. In Romania, you as a citizen, only own the surface of your land. Everything that is under, gold, petrol, coal, thermal water etc. belongs to the Romanian State, that’s our law. And if the gold was theirs why should they be fooled by giving them only a limited time job and not a share of more than 50% of the profit ??

  • ibz
    • Yes, certainly well thought out but does it not rather lean towards the idea that mining Rosia Montana’s gold would perhaps be acceptable if all of the profits were to go to the Romanian state? That’s not the view held by the majority of the protesters, who want it stopped regardless of who is doing the mining.

      • ibz

        There will always be some people that live in a dream world and demand that we close all industry, stop driving, stop eating meat, and meditate every day. I don’t care about such unrealistic demands. Mining is not wrong – if done properly and if the country has significant gains. The issue is that in this situation we want to mine irresponsably for no gains *and* we plan to completely destroy the fundamental right to property while doing that (which creates a dangerous precedent). 🙂 The reason why RMGC still can’t legally start the project after 15 years of fighting is that what they are proposing is indeed completely beyond anything reasonable.

  • Dan

    Rosia Montana is a “shithole”? You either haven’t been there or you’re blind. I was there last month for the fifth time, and I’d buy a house there on the spot. In fact, I probably will, once rmgc finally packs its bags and leaves, tail firmly stuck between its legs.
    You do raise one good point in an otherwise poorly informed post: how do you promote tourism there? Tourism is something that the local authorities have tried their best to oppose, because they’re paid to promote mining as the only viable source of income for the locals. Still, there has been a clear increase in the number of tourists in the area, not only in Rosia Montana but also in Bucium and other places nearby. If you really are interested in the subject, you should actually go there and talk to the people who oppose the project – they’re not hard to find. I recommend you stay at La Gruber, a small pension on the main road, and get a little more informed before trying to write an “objective” post on the subject.
    And one more question: do you even know what the Rosia Montana law is all about? Maybe you should also look into that.
    Best,
    Dan

    • A house that would probably not have indoor toilets, or be hooked up to the gas. But then I am guessing that you could probably afford to fix that. The people currently living in Rosia cannot. This, for me, is the fundamental point: people with comfortable lives have no right to tell those who do not what they can and cannot do. It’s feudalism.

      • ibz

        Do you really think people in the countryside can’t *afford* indoor toilets? Then you have obviously never lived in a Romanian village and you are just acting superior because you think you can afford that while others can’t. Let me tell you what – people that live with outdoor toilet do that because they grew up like that and they don’t think that is a problem, not because they can’t afford it. They certainly afford building houses, barns, buying horses, cows, pigs, these days tractors and whatnot and you think they cannot afford a toilet?! My grand parents lived their entire life with outdoor toilet and they never had a problem with that – because that’s how they grew up! Other (younger) relatives I have in the countryside do build indoor toilets these days because they travel abroad and learn about that – but older generations never even considered that. What you just said is like saying that just because your grandma doesn’t have a laptop it means she can’t afford one and not considering that maybe she doesn’t need one. Sorry to say, but not only the logic in your comment is flawed, but your comment is full of superiority to the point that it’s offensive.

        • Tractors! I do not know a single person in my in-laws’ village who can afford a tractor (and it is a rather well-off village). As for the running water issue, it is indeed beyond the means of many of Romania’s very poorest people.

          • Roger

            On my train journey from Buc to iasi I passed a few places where the farms/houses etc looked from all intents and purposes ‘shabby’ (not meaning to offend anyone)

            The surprise about this was some of the tractors that were parked outside, after knowing the cost of these vehicles.

            Quite often accommodation/culture/ways of life etc in Romania can FOOL people into thinking everyone is poor when clearly they are not.

            Quite the opposite with some!

            Seeing ‘shack’ like buildings with Mercedes, BMW’s outside etc is not uncommon at all.

            In my experience anyway.

          • ibz

            Running water is another issue. It has nothing to do with how much money you have. If there’s no pipe in your village, there’s not much you can do. Except … you can just put a pump in your well, if getting water out of the well is too tiresome. That’s what I have in Indonesia – major city (Yogyakarta), not a poor village – no running water, just well with a pump inside. No big deal. That’s nothing to be ashamed about.

          • Dan

            Yes, as expected you have no idea what you’re talking about. I can assure you that ALL the houses I’ve visited in Rosia Montana have both indoor toilets and running water, as well as gas and electricity. And so do all the guesthouses and pensions there, and I’ve been to La Gruber, Claudiu’s cabin (don’t know if it has another name), Casa Manu and Iustian’s. The latter is on top of the mountain, has an unbelievable view, the man built it himself and has all the amenities. Take a trip there before writing nonsense about the place.

            • I have visited, and have seen for myself how the working class of the town live. Those lucky enough to have money to open pensions are a diffferent case. I’m not interested in those people.

      • ibz

        Toilet and bathing, same as food and other such private matters have deep cultural roots that are hard to change. Just because there is newer technology available doesn’t mean one wants to immediately switch. As an example, I live in Indonesia for a year now, people there certainly can afford showers (they drive cars to go to shopping malls, you know … ) and yet they prefer throwing water on themselves with a small pot as opposed to using a shower. At first I was surprised – why would you do that when you can have something more modern, like a shower? Guess what … after I tried their way once, I never used the shower again. It’s more primitive, but works better. Now I’m not saying outdoor toilet *is* better, but it’s certainly a taboo issue with deep cultural roots that are not easy to change.

        • Sometimes people have to be dragged into the modern world…

          • ibz

            Modernity is debatable. I’m in Sri Lanka for 3 weeks now, and people here eat with their hands (eat as in eat curry, not eat sandwich). Does that make them primitive? Does that mean they can’t afford spoons / forks? Just because you grew up eating with fork and spoon doesn’t mean they are less modern – whatever that means.

            • Keith

              Yes and some cultures still wipe their asses with their hands even though they can “afford” to use leaves from a tree. By the way, can you really clean yourself well enough with only a small pot of water? Does that method include washing your hair? Please explain the process. Thank you.

              • ibz

                You don’t just throw *one* pot of water, you use one pot to throw water on you as many times as you need. 🙂

                Every bathroom has something called “mandi” which is a big reservoir full of water (how you fill it is up to what facilities you have – can be running water, can be a pump in your well, can be another reservoir on the top of the house, …). Then you use a small pot to get water from the mandi and throw it on yourself. Usually the same pot you also use to get water from the mandi and “flush” the toilet. They could certainly afford a toilet that can be flushed, but nobody bothers with that.

                Note that this wouldn’t work in Romania, where bathing with cold water is only feasible for a couple of months a year, but it’s certainly great in Indonesia, where you bathe with cold water all year round.

                This is how a typical Indonesian bathroom looks like http://www.foothand.com/upload/picture/0312071609.jpg – whether it’s in somebody’s home, or in a restaurant, or in a train station … Oh – their toilets are *always* clean. I’ve never seen such consistently clean toilets during my travels, not even in the West. Whether it’s a train station or a tiny restaurant or a farmers’ market, every toilet is absolutely clean. Don’t know why …

                Also note, lots of toilets are squat. That’s not because people can’t afford “throne” toilets, but because they don’t like them. That is the case in China as well, where I lived for many years. All my friends there would prefer squat, if they had a choice. They say it’s more comfortable, for some reason…

                So judging other cultures based on what is considered “must have” in your own culture is simply a sign of narrow mindness. The world is a big place and we are not all the same. And neither should we become the same.

          • Roxana

            .. one cyanide lake at a time… interesting point of view, my friend

  • “…what perhaps prevents me the most from being a fully-fledged supporter of the project is the murkiness which surrounds the contract and RMGC themselves.”

    This acknowledgement pretty much reduces to zero your statement below:

    “We have always tried to be objective and we think we have – by and large – succeeded.”

  • “Now, while we do not like referenda in general and think that this is a local and not a national issue, such a vote could be workable compromise.”

    First of all, in case you didn’t know, a local referendum on this subject was held last year and turned pretty bad for the pro-RMGC camp.

    And you’re wrong: a referendum on the subject of the gold mining project would be not just useless, but illegal too. Because you cannot organize a referendum on the subject of breaking the laws. For 14 years, Gabriel resources (through RMGC) were unable to propose a mining project that would observe the current laws; this is the reason why a decision on this subject was never made. The company had to correct and modify their proposal over and over again, and they still haven’t been able to come up with a project that would comply to the current laws.

    So what is the government’s “solution”? They wrote a special law for RMGC, one that seriously affects the fundamental human rights, the principle of separation of powers and violates several provisions of the constitution.

    What would be the question asked in this “workable compromise”? “Do you agree that RMGC should be allowed to break the laws?”

    • Why do you say that the referendum ‘turned pretty bad for the pro-RMGC camp’?

      A majority of people voted in favour of the mine: 62 per cent in fact, on a 43 per cent turnout. In Rosia Montana itself 78 per cent voted yes on a 66 per cent turnout.

      A strange view of democracy you have.

      • You call a 43% turnout a good result? With all the “incentives” and buses etc. used by the company to get as many people to vote as possible? A strange view of the voting results you have.

        I’d say that the other 57% say a lot…

  • “We have always tried to be objective and we think we have – by and large – succeeded.”

    Poor joke! Luckily, nobody can really believe this since your “objectivity” is so “admirable, even sublime, but totally absent” (to paraphrase Caragiale).

  • It’s ironic that the only side that you don’t mention is that of nature itself. Where you see a “shithole” (really?) I see a rich living ecosystem that has and continues to be misunderstood and neglected. We have found a soft way to abuse it (like deteriorating soil fertility or pastures) so we are turning to brute ways of abusing it.

    As for the consequences of cyanide … at best it is an unknown. The scale of the mining seems to be unprecedented … which increases the unknown factor. There is no doubt that cyanide has potentially devestating consequences. And yes, to aswer your question above (in the comments), the generally ignorant status of Romania towards ecology together with the tendency for corrupt decision making that will easily cut corners for more profit (off and on the books) makes cyanide MUCH less safe in the hands of Romanias (or others!) in Romania.

    I also didn’t know much about Rosia Montana until I took the time to visit and learn (very recently). What amazes me most is the sheer arrogance, audacity and obviousness in which it is considered OK to practically tear down 4 or 5 mountains. This is a qualitative issue – the devastation (nothing less) of an entire living ecosystem (without knowing how far those ripples of devastation will reach). Why is that so obviously OK? Why do you not even consider that an issue?

    And if you really want to go to the heart of the matter. Consider this:

    “Gold’s association with money encourages the continued (and very environmentally destructive) effort to mine more gold. To dig holes in the ground and fill them back up again is the epitome of wasted work, yet that is essentially what gold mining does. At huge effort, we dig gold ore out of the ground, transport it, refine it, and eventually put it into other holes in the ground called vaults. This effort, and the scarcity of gold, is one (very haphazard) way to regulate the money supply, but why not regulate it through purposeful social and political agreements, or through some more organic process, and save all that hole digging?”

    taken from: http://sacred-economics.com/sacred-economics-chapter-9-the-story-of-value/

    Also any claims about a local community benefitting from this are misinformed. You speak of “the people of Rosia Montana” when in essence there is no such thing anymore – the place is mostly deserted. There are a small number of families who are holding out to protect the ecosystem which still just barely supports them and a slightly larger (yet also small) number of families that have been bought by the mining company with promises of jobs.

    The claims of jobs for locals are mostly floated by the mining company trying to lure whoever is left to support its position. Whatever jobs there may be are expected to be gone in 15 years. Then there will be no jobs and no nature … a dead ecosystem which can only be deserted.

    It is a dead end proposal for everyone and everything except those who will walk away with money.

    • ‘the generally ignorant status of Romania towards ecology together with the tendency for corrupt decision making that will easily cut corners for more profit (off and on the books) makes cyanide MUCH less safe in the hands of Romanias (or others!) in Romania’

      Such optimism in human beings you have!

      • Common Craig. Seriously … that is your response? Or I am in the wrong in assuming the comment box is an invitation for quality debate?

        Break it down, ask me a question, be silent … but a pointless generalization like that?

        No I am not talking about all human beings. I am talking about Romanians:
        – Government officials are ignorant (on a good day, usually facing in the wrong direction).
        – Peasants (who with small actions but large numbers have a huge impact on Romania) are stuck in traditional methods which are depleting soil ferility and water reservoires and eating away at forests (whats left).
        – Industrial agriculture … pure destruction … do I need to say anything more?
        – City folk … maybe have basic information at best and live with an abstract (and often incoherent) perception of ecology.

        So I think I am being a realist.

        I can also be an optimist … but that would take more words then I care to put here at this point in time (especially given your response above).

        • ibz

          How are peasants with their traditional methods “depleting soil ferility and water reservoires and eating away at forests”? Soil, water and forests were fine for thousends of years, and suddenly the traditional methods are wrong and other methods are better?

          Soil and water will be destroyed by companies like RMGC and the forests will be gone soon, due to companies like Kronospan (no one is talking about the disaster *they* are causing because it’s well dressed up as “environmental protection”).

  • lord belial

    this fucker craig turp is writing about my country whilst still living in my country?
    why don’t you go back to where the fuck you came from, foreigner?

    how about this for nationalism? you fuckers, calling us gypsies evrywhere. get the fuck out of my country, you filthy cunt

    SAVE ROSIA MONTANA

    A FULL TIME PROTESTER

    • Charming.

      • ibz

        The kind of post that gives RM protesters a bad image. 🙁

    • Keith

      Craig, you’ve been called a cunt twice today. Good job and keep up the good work.

    • Ethan

      I think if you want the foreign businesses to leave, then it’s only fair to demand the foreign environmentalists leave.

  • ibz

    How is this post “obligatory” (whatever that means)? It certainly doesn’t add anything new to the story.

    I won’t go on with why Rosia Montana should be “saved”, because you are obviously not interested in those arguments (they are all over, unless you have been living under a rock). So let me just say that this is really not about Rosia Montana anymore, but about saving Romania. The law that was passed a couple of days ago basically brings us 50 years back in time, except that … it’s even worse. Instead of having the (communist) government take away your property whenever they wish, now we are in a situation where a private company can take away your property whenever they wish, without the government even having to intervene! Sure, this is limited to that Rosia Montana shithole, you say … but what if tomorrow there is another project of “majore national importance” like building a shopping mall in Bucharest and your house happens to be in the way? See the connection?

    • Would you support a referendum on the issue?

      • ibz

        A referendum is doomed, because most Romanians still rely on traditional media as a way of getting their information, and traditional media is definitely not objective in this issue. I was shocked when I talked to my mum about this – she was unaware as of why people are protesting (and that’s because she saw them in the center of Cluj, not from the media) and why they oppose mining – but she was totally unaware of the new law. So yes, I support a referendum as a last resort, but I don’t really believe it would change anything. The only way to fix this is to have another 21 December (as the 1989 one didn’t really happen).

    • ibz

      PS: I’ve been both to Rosia Montana and to Bucharest, and the latter is definitely a shithole, while the former not so much. The sad state it is in is exactly *because* of the mining industry and RMGC. That’s easy to understand if you visit Romanian villages that didn’t have anything to do with mining or industry. So yes, it really is about saving it – but saving not in the way of conserving it as it is, but rather improving it and giving it a future (longer than the 10-15 years future that gold mining can offer).

      • Here we are on the same page. Agree about Bucharest and I know that Rosia Montana is the way it is because of mining (although I would point out that we owe our entire way of life to mining, albeit mainly coal mining).

        However, how to improve it and clean it up? Who pays for that?

        • ibz

          Good point, but I won’t continue with that discussion, as it gets too far away from our issue and shifts into abstract. 🙂 Suffice to say that cyanide gold mining is quite different from traditional mining, which still leaves a big mess behind, but at least that mess is not poisonous!

          I guess tourism and agriculture are generally good ways for Romania to move forward. Especially Rosia Montana. There are hundreds of kilometers of galleries dug by Romans to extract gold. Those are quite attractive for example (if properly promoted, which you know…). Also there used to be a narrow gauge rail on Valea Ariesului – I remember I took it once when I was a kid, and it was really fun. Sure, that’s expensive to rebuild, as most of the rail has already disappeared, but it’s peanuts compared to other financial black holes we have.

          There’s always this “jobs” argument of course – most people in RM are unemployed. But don’t forget that they can still live from agriculture as they did for hundreds of years before. Sure, you can employ them for 10-15 years, but what will they do after the gold is gone and what is left is a cyanide lake? How is that sustainable? And how many of these 1000 jobs that RMGC promises are even going to be for locals, which don’t have proper qualifications? And how much money would even go to the locals anyway (directly or indirectly)?

          • Narrow gauge and steam railways are indeed one possibility to develop tourism in parts of Romania. In the UK especially they have become a genuine industry. While many were resurrected at first on a volunteer basis by enthusiasts, there are now tens if not hundreds of them all over the country and most are very popular and successful financially.

          • Paco

            Could you please develop a little more your statement: ” Suffice to say that cyanide gold mining is quite different from traditional mining, which still leaves a big mess behind, but at least that mess is not poisonous!”

            I work in the mining industry and I can assure you, unless you dig for dirt, everything involves some reactive added to the solution in order to extract what you want (gold, silver, zinc, copper, etc).
            You are probably referring to the heap leaching process that involves stockpiles of material being drenched in cyanide that slowly dissolves the gold, resulting in a liquid solution.

            The CIP and CIL methods of extracting gold also generate toxic residues, but of another type and on another scale. The heap-leaching method is cheaper and simpler.

            But, I think it’s pretty clear that all modern industrial processes can produce big messes if improperly operated.

            As for the expropriations, I don’t think progress can be made if we let everything as is. If the dwellers are paid a fair price for their property, I see nothing wrong there.

            Just my point of view.

            • Roxana

              you don’t understand, Paco… it’s not about money.. it’s about the people.. it’s their land and they don’t want to move.. a street over, a meter over.. they don’t want to. it’s their right, their property, their land.. this fight bring back to me an old Hollywood classic called “You Can’t Take It with You”.. because you can’t. There are things money just can’t buy. I’m all for progress but not at the cost of destroying everything in it’s past. You could say i’m recently opening my eyes to the corporate greed. Rosia Montana is just a prime example. It’s all about the maximum returns with the minimum investment. I’m not a nationalist, i love it when foreigners go to Romania and fall in love with it and stay there, i love it when companies invest in Romania.. for the better. But i’m angered when it’s not so, when we’re treated like people that can’t think for themselves. And when we prove we do think for ourselves and try to lift our voices, we’re bullied. I don’t know where you live, Craig, or how much you know about Romanians.. i’ve just seen a video on youtube that is precisely applied to what i’m talking about. If they can’t convince you, they’ll try to pay you off or bully you.

              You were talking above about optimism about the human race, i believe.. the more i live the less i feel optimist. And unfortunately we’ll wake up when it will be too late, when there will be nothing that we can do. I’m not talking apocalyptic nightmare.. you’re old enough to remember the song.. “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.. they took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and charged people a dollar to see them”.. how sad..

              Ok, call me a tree huger now.. maybe i am. But if i’ll have kids one day, i’d want them to experience what i lived.. not a deserted area on top of a cyanide decanting lake. And this goes further than just this industry or this area, country… we’re spending everything so fast because we’re lazy to do otherwise.. we have nowhere else to go.. unless you want to apply for Newt’s lunar colony 😀

        • ibz

          I suppose you know that cyanide mining was strictly banned in EU in 2010 with a strong majority. This says something about that kind of mining. Only that they changed their mind 2 months later, because … I don’t know why, really. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?language=en&type=IM-PRESS&reference=20100505IPR74149

          • I also know that cyanide is safely used in mining in both New Zealand and Norway, two of he most environmentally friendly countries on earth.

            • I just googled “cyanide mining norway” and what do I get on the front page: 2 news about past ecological disasters in Africa and Romania due to accidental spilling of cyanide into rivers.

              Now, just consider that the amount of cyanide that’ll be used in this project is over 10 times greater than the total cyanide used in the entire Europe, combine this with the legendary disdain for safety and ecology of Romanian companies and workers, plus an indefinite horizon of time to store those cyanide-infected wastes, and you’ll get horror nightmares of wastelands and polluted waters all over Romania.

              • That’s a bit like saying Norwegians can be trusted with cyanide but Romanians can’t…

                • Precisely. We can’t be trusted with democracy, nonetheless with cyanide.

                  • Ethan

                    I don’t think that statement is fair or accurate. Of course Romania can be trusted with democracy. It can also be trusted with cyanide.

                    Every day, and with increasing numbers, Romania participates in the global economy. Romania executes complicated financial transactions and contracts, and deals in toxic or dangerous materials and processes… every day.

                    In the developed world, any time you launch (or relaunch) a venture like this you’re going to attract the attention of environmentalists. Sometimes a project is shut down but sometimes they’re able to force some important reviews and modifications that help mitigate the environmental threat.

                    I don’t think there’s any reason Romania and Romanians can’t be trusted in this process.

                    Letting everyone fight it out is important for getting a good project underway (or sinking a terrible project) but make sure you ignore the hyperbole on both sides.

        • lord belial

          You really are dumb.
          RMGC have woved to pay roughly 140 million CAD to close down site.Let alone the fact this money won’t be nough to cover the huge hole in the ground they are contemplating.

          Canadians, go the fuck home. This ain’t Africa or Australia or El Dorado. This is our country and we will defend it.

          And how can you be so thick as to ask if we are going to attend the referendum? do we need a referendum paid with public funds a referendum for a LAW DRAFTED for a fucking private company?

          Canada, go home.

  • Andy H

    The real question here (or this is what should be the real question) is what is the history and the contract between the Romanian State and Gabriel Resources? After the utter shambles and daylight robbery of the Bechtel contract, in which the Romanian taxpayer has been fleeced of billions which is lining pockets in Texas and Bucharest, all such deals need to be looked with incredible care, and the history of the arrangement needs to be scrutinised in great detail. Until there is some transparency on that, I have no trust that this is not just another way of fucking Romania over cooked up by its politicians and a multinational corporation.

    • Entirely agree. Indeed, what perhaps prevents me the most from being a fully-fledged supporter of the project is the murkiness which surrounds the contract and RMGC themselves. If the government had – all those years ago – awarded the exploration rights to a more experienced and respected mining company (they do exist) things would have been resolved long ago.

      • Oh, I thought you said you were “objective”. Now I see you’re actually an almost “fully-fledged supporter of the project”… Well, at least you’re honest 🙂