Court verdict irrevocably cancel urban plans for the Rosia Montana gold mine

 

The Rosia Montana licensing procedure – harsh and hilly roads ahead

Court verdict irrevocably cancel urban plans for the Rosia Montana gold mine

Rosia Montana, 5 April 2012 – The Alba Iulia Court of Appeal (file 5159/107/2010) today released a verdict that annuls the juridical effects of Rosia Montana gold mine’s urban plans approved by the Rosia Montana Local County with decision no. 1 of January 2009. The verdict is a result of a court action introduced by Alburnus Maior (AM), the Independent Center for the Development of Environmental Resources (ICDER) and Rosia Montana Cultural Foundation. The verdict is irrevocable.

Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) is 80% owned by Gabriel Resources (TSX:GBU), a small, under-resourced and inexperienced Canadian mining company which plans to uproot the people of Rosia Montana to realize Europe’s largest open-cast gold mine. 19,31% are owned by Minvest, a state-owned mining company. American miner Newmont (NTSE: NEM), American Electrum Strategic Holdings LLC and American Paulson & Co. each own just under 20% of Gabriel Resources. From its’ onset the venture has been beleaguered by scandals, operational problems and vehement local, national and international opposition. Rosia Montana’s urban plans – the General Urbanistic Plan (PUG) and Zonal Urbanistic Plan (PUZ) for the Industrial Development Area of Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) were exclusively financed by RMGC and submitted for approval to Rosia Montana’s Local Council in July 2002 to initiate the gold mine’s licensing procedure. The urban plans banned any kind of economic activity in the area under the project’s footprint. The change of Rosia Montana’s status from a residential area into an industrial area also saw the inception of the relocation and resettlement of the local population and the entire public infrastructure (schools, local medical unit, roads etc.). Since 2002 RMGC’s Urban Plans blocked numerous local development initiatives in areas such as tourism, agriculture, services etc. because the plans prohibited the construction of new buildings; including on private property.

During all the years while the Urban Plans were in place, they were constantly contested by AM; due to the flagrant illegalities that determined those Plans existence in the first place. The majority of the local counselors, who endorsed the Urban Plans with their vote, were at that time in conflict of interests due to the fact that either they themselves or close relatives were RMGC employees. The directly affected population was never consulted by the Local Council, which, in its turn didn’t even follow the legal procedures to obtain all preliminary approvals for PUG and PUZ.

On 23 January 2008, following a court action introduced by AM, the Alba Iulia Court of Appeal has ascertained the illegality of Rosia Montana’s urban plans. Legally this decision should have lead to the invalidation of the entire licensing procedure carried out by RMGC until then, including the invalidation of the EIA procedure at the level of the Ministry for the Environment. Unsurprisingly, the company circumvented the effects of this court ruling, turning to a solution of a unique juridical exoticism that allowed it to continue the licensing procedure for the Rosia Montana gold mine: the company submitted the exact documentation declared illegal by the court to the approval of the new Local Council at Rosia Montana which, the company claimed, was no longer in a situation of conflicts of interests towards the decision. The new Rosia Montana local council issued decision no. 1 of January 2009 to “re-confirm, with retroactive effects”, the decisions of the previous Local Council to approve PUG and PUZ for the Rosia Montana gold mine.