Is Poland’s coal and climate summit outrageous or irrelevant? – Ed King (The Guardian – November 8, 2013)

World Coal meeting is set to discuss the fuel’s future, but science and policymakers may have sealed the polluting fuel’s fate already, says Ed King for RTCC, part of the Guardian Environment Network

On a scale of diplomatic blunders, organising an international coal conference at the same time as a UN climate summit appears to be fairly substantial.

Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels, which makes the Polish Ministry of Economy’s decision to host the International Coal and Climate conference from November 18-19 appear curious.

Without expensive technologies fixed to power stations, its noxious fumes can choke cities, raise mortality rates, cause acid rain and are heavily linked to climate change. In 2010 it was responsible for 43% of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion – that’s around 13.1 gigatonnes of the 51 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GTCO2e) released that year.

In short, coal seems to be an enemy to what UN envoys call ‘climate ambition’. But the Polish hosts of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UN, which starts on Monday 11 November, disagree.

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Miners hope Czech election will end gold extraction moratorium – by Jan Marchal (Business Day – November 18, 2013) [South Africa]

CZECH gold deposits are whetting the appetites of foreign prospectors hoping to see the new government lift a mining moratorium in the aftermath of snap elections.

But rather than a dream come true, the prospect of a gold rush is a nightmare for environmentalists and residents of the hilly region south of the capital, Prague, a popular resort area that holds the biggest deposit.

“No one wants an open-cast mine here, in this wonderful natural setting near the Vltava River,” says Jiri Stastka, mayor of the village of Chotilsko. A few hundred metres from the village, the Vesely Vrch wooded hill and its surroundings conceal about 140 tonnes of the metal worth an estimated 100-billion koruna ($5bn ).

Known as the Mokrsko deposit, this is just more than a quarter of the Czech Republic’s estimated 380-400 tonnes of gold, which is about 1% of the globe’s deposits. But locals fear irreversible environmental damage, particularly the pollution of groundwater since toxic cyanide is used in the extraction of gold.

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Every Sunday, There’s a Protest Outside Billionaire John Paulson’s Enormous Townhouse – by Kristen French (New York Magazine – November 14, 2013)

On a blustery Sunday in November, the wind tore down East 86th Street from the hills of Central Park, whipping leaves and debris around a handful of protestors gathered in front of the 28,500-square-foot townhouse of hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson, one of America’s wealthiest men and biggest gold investors. Silvia Pena, 32, a tall, big-eyed beauty from Bucharest who came to New York from Romania three years ago to attend the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, held a giant poster board aloft.

It bore photographs of a pensive Paulson, a verdant Romanian valley, the moon-faced landscape of an open-pit gold mine, and a scowling stick figure with one arm pointing fiercely off the page, “GTFO” scrawled in red block letters beneath it. “Get the fuck out,” Silvia explained with a curled smile and a wink in her eye.

Silvia and a coterie of Romanian expats were assembling in front of Paulson’s home for the seventh Sunday in a row to demand that the billionaire withdraw his investment from Gabriel Resources. The Canadian company has been trying for fourteen years to get the Romanian government to green-light its development of Europe’s largest open-pit gold mine in a picturesque and historic town called Rosia Montana. (Hundreds of lawsuits from NGOs over the years have held it up.)

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INTERVIEW-Russian nuclear exporter’s foreign hires battle Soviet-style secrecy – by Alissa de Carbonnel and Svetlana Burmistrova (Reuters India – November 14, 2013)

MOSCOW, Nov 14 (Reuters) – An ambitious export drive by Russia’s nuclear reactor corporation is being hamstrung by dated Soviet-style secrecy rules, foreign executives at the company say.

Rosatom has hired a former Finnish nuclear regulator, Jukka Laaksonen, to be the face of Russian nuclear energy abroad and a guarantor of safety.

But in a throwback to Soviet secrecy rules, Laaksonen and two other new foreign vice presidents are barred from working out of its Moscow headquarters, a hulking colonnaded building that housed the Soviet Union’s atomic ministry in the 1950s.

Before Rosatom’s export branch, Rusatom Overseas, moved to its own offices, its Czech vice president, Leos Tomicek, often worked out a cafe across the street, a company spokesman said.

Tomicek and Laaksonen say strict internal commercial secrecy rules prevent the Russian state firm from advertising its latest technology and are the biggest obstacle to Russia’s ambitions to triple sales by 2030.

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Commentary – CETA to benefit PDAC members: Joe Oliver (Northern Miner – November 13, 2013)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry. 

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, met with the full board of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in Toronto on Nov. 12. The following is an excerpt of his prepared speech, as it relates to the proposed Canada-European Union free trade agreement, formally called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which is supported in principle by the PDAC.

Our government is working hard to position Canada to take full advantage of growth in emerging economies. Key to achieving this success will be market access through new infrastructure and market diversification.

Your industry is ahead of the curve in this regard — with markets and market access already well-established worldwide.

As you know, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso recently announced an agreement-in-principle on a free trade agreement with the European Union.

The Canada–EU trade agreement is by far Canada’s most ambitious trade initiative ever. The EU is the largest economy in the world — with its 27 member states, 500 million consumers and annual economic activity of $17 trillion.

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PRESS RELEASE: Rosia Montana-Report of the Special Committee of Parliament-New Romanian Legal Framework for Gold and Silver Mining Proposed

TORONTO, CANADA, Nov 12, 2013 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — Gabriel Resources Ltd. (“Gabriel” or the “Company”) CA:GBU +7.32% announces that the report (“Report”) of the Joint Special Committee of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (“Special Committee”) on the draft legislation related to its majority owned Rosia Montana gold and silver project (“Project”) and the development of mining activities in Romania (“Draft Law”) has been published.

The Company will issue a further market update in due course once it has had the opportunity to consider fully all findings, proposals, conclusions and recommendations of the Report. This notwithstanding, the Company notes that the conclusions of the Report include:

— recognition that the existing mining law is not sufficient to legislate
for the scale and complexity of the Project;
— a recommendation for the creation of a new legal framework applicable to
gold and silver mining projects and consequently a rejection of the
Draft Law;
— a positive assessment of the economic benefits of the proposed
amendments to the agreement and legislation promoted by the Romanian
Government; and

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Gabriel Resources still confident of way forward for Rosia Montana – by Alex Williams ( – November 12, 2013)

While Romania’s parliamentary committee voted overwhelmingly against legislation that would have fast tracked the mine, CEO, Jonathan Henry remains positive.

LONDON (MINEWEB) – Rosia Montana has a future as a gold mine, Gabriel Resources CEO, Jonathan Henry, told Mineweb on Tuesday. “I’m confident that there’s a way forward,” he said. “We just need to see it.”

On Monday a parliamentary committee overwhelmingly voted against legislation that would have fast-tracked the mine’s construction by declaring it a “public utility.”

However, the company views Monday’s committee decision as a rejection of the legislation supporting Rosia Montana, rather than a rejection of the project itself. The committee has left open the possibility of a wide-ranging review of its mining laws, under which Rosia Montana could technically be approved in the future.

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Romania shuts door on Gabriel’s giant Rosia Montana gold mine – by Armina Ligaya (National Post – November 12, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The last lifeline for Gabriel Resources Ltd.’s controversial mining project in northwestern Romania went dead on Monday, after a parliamentary commission voted down a draft bill which would have allowed Europe’s largest open pit gold mine to move forward.

The rejection of the draft bill, which would have finally set out a course for development of the mine, came after 14 years of waiting for permits amid mounting political turbulence.

The news sent the Canadian mining company’s already-depressed stock down 10%, or 9.3¢ to close at 82.7¢ on the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday. Jonathan Henry, the chief executive of Gabriel Resources, however, said he was “confident” there could still be “a potential path forward” for the project.

The draft bill specific to Rosia Montana was rejected, he said, but Romania may go forward with a general gold and silver mining bill which could leave the door open for Gabriel’s project, he said Monday.

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Gabriel Resources’ Romanian mining project suffers setback – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – November 12, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Rome – Gabriel Resources Ltd.’s 15-year effort to develop Europe’s biggest gold mine suffered yet another setback when a Romanian parliamentary commission overwhelmingly rejected a draft law that, if passed, would have allowed construction of the $1-billion (U.S.) project.

But Toronto-listed Gabriel said the rejection of the draft bill does not mean that the proposed Rosia Montana mine in Transylvania is dead.

A spokesman noted that the draft law was turned down because Romania wants broader legislation to deal with all gold and silver mines, not just the Rosia Montana project. The draft bill dealt only with Rosia Montana.

“The commission believes the bill under consideration does not entirely meet all the complex requirements on the conduct of business in mineral resources exploitation in Romania and therefore proposes its rejection,” Attila Korody, one of the 19 lawmakers on the commission, told Reuters Monday evening.

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Poland, Wedded to Coal, Spurns Europe on Clean Energy Targets – by Danny Hakim and Mateusz (New York Times – October 31, 2013)

BELCHATOW, Poland — They call it Poland’s biggest hole in the ground. The coal mine here is more than eight-and-a-half miles long, nearly two miles wide and as deep in parts as three football fields. Enough coal comes out of it to fuel Europe’s largest coal-fired utility plant, whose chimneys loom in the distance.

“The entire world population could fit in this hole,” Tomasz Tarnowski, an administrator here, said in a bit of proud hyperbole as he led a group of reporters on a walk near a towering mound of brown coal about halfway into the mine.

Poland is Europe’s coal colossus. More than 88 percent of its electricity comes from coal. Belchatow is one of its huge sources and the largest carbon emitter in Europe. (There’s no “belch” in Belchatow — it is pronounced bel-HOT-oof.)

This month, a United Nations conference on climate change will be held in Poland, a location many environmental activists consider the least appropriate choice they could imagine. And while the European Union has mapped out ambitious clean-energy goals intended to reduce the greenhouse gases linked to global warming, Poland has been its fossil-fuels holdout.

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Rosia Montana: Will a Vocal Minority Deny Romania its Right to Huge Benefits? – by Catalin Hosu (Huffington Post – November 1, 2013)

Catalin HosuRegional is the Regional Communications Manager for the Roşia Montană Gold Corporation.

Lively debate on the subject of the Rosia Montana gold project continues – some of which is informed and possesses a basis in fact, and some of which does not (as was highlighted in my recent Huffington Post article “Debate is Good”).

The fact remains that the project has numerous tangible benefits and is able to directly address several issues not only in the area where the project is located but in Romania as a whole; however some of its opponents seem intent on disregarding these, without presenting any real alternatives to real issues.

It is not for me to suggest that Rosia Montana holds the only solution to Romania’s problems; nor that it is the only project with the capacity to boost Romania’s economy; nor that it will single-handedly solve the area’s unemployment. However Rosia Montana is one possible solution to so many of these problems and therefore deserves, at the very least, proper consideration.

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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’.

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Cameco welcomes Greenland’s decision to lift uranium mining ban – by Jan Olsen (CTV News/The Associated Press – October 25, 2013)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Greenland’s parliament has agreed to remove a 25-year-old ban on uranium mining, paving the way for an industrial boom that the Arctic island hopes will help it gain independence from former colonial master Denmark.

Greenland, a semi-autonomous part of Denmark, wants to step up its mining of rare earths, valuable elements used in the production of smartphones, weapons systems and other modern technologies. But uranium is often found mixed into rare earths, so the ban was blocking key mining activity.

Cameco (TSX:CCO), one of the world’s largest uranium producers, welcomed the decision, adding that it would be open to setting up projects in Greenland.

“We are pleased to see that Greenland has opened the door to safe and responsible uranium mining,” said Rob Gereghty, a spokesman for the Saskatoon-based company.

“Currently, we are focusing our exploration efforts in Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan and the United States. As we look forward, the removal of this barrier will allow us to consider Greenland for potential uranium exploration projects.”

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UPDATE 2-Mining slump weighs on Nordic suppliers Sandvik, Metso – by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom (Reuters India – October 24, 2013)

STOCKHOLM, Oct 24 (Reuters) – Swedish machinery and tool maker Sandvik said on Thursday a sharp fall in demand from a shrinking mining industry was showing signs of levelling out.

But the slump still hit its earnings, and led to a fall in orders at Finnish rival Metso, which also stepped up a programme of cost cuts.

The global mining industry is under pressure to reduce overheads as demand for raw materials levels off after a decade of strong growth, and sector heavyweights led by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have slashed capital spending by billions of dollars.

The cuts have translated into job losses and plunging order intakes for a cluster of Nordic suppliers.

Sandvik, which together with Swedish peer Atlas Copco supplies more than half the world’s underground mining gear, said the order intake in its mining business fell 17 percent year-on-year in the third quarter. The rate of decline eased from the second quarter, however.

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Outokumpu asks EU to let it keep Italian steel plant: sources – by Silvia Antonioli and Maytaal Angel (Reuters India – October 22, 2013)

LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu has asked the European Commission to let it keep the Italian steel plant the company agreed to sell to gain approval for its purchase of ThyssenKrupp’s Inoxum unit.

The Acciai Speciali Terni plant has been valued at more than 500 million euros ($677 million) by Outokumpu, but is now expected to sell for less than that due to weakness in the global steel market.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Terni, one of Europe’s biggest and most modern plants, will lose 80-100 million euros this year, and that Outokumpu believes it is not anti-competitive to keep it under current conditions.

The Terni plant, about 100 km (62 miles) north of Rome, was valued by one analyst at up to $1 billion over a year ago. “They have been trying to convince the EU that they should keep Terni since the market situation has completely changed from last year – the sector got much worse,” an industry expert said.

Refraining from selling the plant could allow more flexibility in valuing it, the expert said, leading to a lower writedown in the company’s books.

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