The Paradoxes of the Rosia Montana Mining Project – by Oana Romocea (Huffington Post – October 31, 2013)

Since the beginning of September a day hasn’t gone by without me reading an article either for or against the Rosia Montana mining project. I am not an expert in mining so I have tried to understand both sides of the argument (although I did talk to a former mine director in my attempt to better grasp the Rosia Montana situation).

Most articles written against the cyanide-based gold mining have a significant emotional element as the people behind this campaign believe with sturdy passion in their cause. But I must admit that the arguments supporting the project which are used by the Canadian mining Company, Gabriel Resources (owner of RMGC – Rosia Montana Gold Corporation) and borrowed by many Romanian politicians, including the President and members of the government, seem reasonable at first glance (See the article written by their communications manager a few weeks ago in the Huffington Post UK). Well, that is until you put them in context and realise the paradoxes lying behind them. Let’s take them one by one:

ARGUMENT # 1: ‘The use of cyanide in gold mining is routine’ as ‘over 95% of the world’s gold production uses it’.

JUSTIFICATION: Yes, a practice widely used worldwide sounds reassuring, but…

PARADOX: Just because it is used doesn’t mean it is safe. The biggest European ecological disaster since Chernobyl, involved cyanide and incidentally it happened in Romania too, in the northern city of Baia Mare in 2000. Supporters of the mining industry will say that Baia Mare mine was in use for many years before the accident. Well, it just happens that I am very familiar with the region. Baia Mare is a city surrounded by beautiful hills covered by rich forests, just like Rosia Montana, but intoxicated with pollution. I know what pollution tastes like, how it smells, how it feels. So, please stop using Baia Mare as a case to support the Rosia Montana mining project. Pollution is ghastly. Full stop.

The other argument they use in favour of cyanide is that gold mining has a direct link to ‘other industries such as medicine, dentistry, aerospace, computers and telephony’. Well, the bigger picture is that only 11-12% of the world’s gold production is used by these industrial sectors. The overwhelming majority of gold production, i.e. around 50%, goes into jewellery. There must be a better way of reconditioning the existing gold for developing key industrial technologies.

The other paradox behind the cyanide argument is the fact that the rich gold mining companies don’t seem to invest in mining technology research. I am still to hear about a university research project on sustainable mining or more efficient recycling methods funded by one of the giants of the mining industry. Why deny future generations the opportunity to come up with a less or non-toxic technology?

ARGUMENT #2: ‘The mine at Rosia Montana will create jobs’.

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