In the gold rush

Aus der Umweltkatastrophe in Baia Mare hat Rumanien wenig gelernt: Wieder bedroht ein Goldbergbau Natur und historisches Erbe

Romania is on the way to Europe. In 2007, the country will become a member of the European Union, according to the decision of the EU summit in Copenhagen. It can be a long road: A study (PDF) by the Open Society Institute has just revealed that Romania is the state most plagued by corruption among the EU accession candidates. In Romania itself, the tarps of Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources Ltd. are currently causing.The small town of Rosia Montana is to make way for a gold mine that will 2.000 people will be forced to relocate, the environment will be massively threatened, and the Roman mining settlement of Alburnus Maior will be destroyed, an archaeological treasure of the first order.

Pictures: Rosiamontana.org

It has only been two years since the dam of the gold mine "Aurul" and 100.000 cubic meters of cyanide sludge poured into the Tisza and Danube rivers, where they 1.200 tons of dead fish fabricated. Barely 100 kilometers from Baia Mare, a new open-pit gold mine is to be built. To find in Rosia Montana 300 tons of gold and 1.To extract 600 tons of silver from the earth, 200 million tons of rock will have to be processed over the next 15 years – here, too, with cyanide. The neighboring Coma Valley is being transformed into a gigantic waste treatment plant, a toxic reservoir covering 600 hectares.

When it became known in 2000 that the Western Cape was home to Europe’s most important gold deposits, Gabriel Resources’ stock prices skyrocketed. The Canadians own eighty percent of the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation there, and the Romanian state-owned company Minvest the remaining twenty percent. The relocation of 2.000 people did not seem to be an obstacle to anyone. The World Bank has also pledged a $100 million loan.

But resistance soon formed Environmentalists feared a second Baia Mare. Also 83 professors of the Romanian Academy of Economics lodged a protest. And Greenpeace has pointed out that open storage of toxic sludge is a classic source of accidents in ore mining. But not even when the World Bank withdrew its loan commitment because of ecological concerns did that deter Gabriel Resources. People are resorting to private-sector funding and are subjecting themselves to greater prere to make a profit. Even the fact that quite a number of the inhabitants of Rosia Montana are not willing to leave their homeland does not bother the Canadians.

Criticism of the project has also been voiced from another corner. The open pit mine will not only destroy the town of Rosia Montana and its five churches, but also the ancient Alburnus Maior mine. Already the Romans mined gold here. A kilometer-long, still accessible tunnel system lasted almost two thousand years. Numerous finds of ancient mining equipment, inscribed altars, and even described wax tablets provide unique insights into ancient social history. In the emergency excavations currently proceeding apace, archaeologists found a mausoleum like no other in Romania, in addition to temples and bathing facilities.

This romantic Eldorado is Rosia Montana’s real asset. Embedded in an impressive landscape in which 2,000 years of mining history have been inscribed.000 years of mining history, it is a tourist attraction of the first order and offers the only development opportunity for the region that sustainably preserves people, the environment and historical heritage. For what will be left of the area when 15 years of mining have left no stone unturned and destroyed all history??

It is above all the international protests that are having an effect in Romania. The fact that the world organization for the protection of historical monuments, ICOMOS, at its 13. The meeting was held in Madrid at the beginning of December: ICOMOS strongly urges all interested parties in this project as well as UNESCO and the international community involved in Romania to do all they can to prevent the destruction of this important archaeological site, although still largely unnoticed. However, a petition of more than 600 archaeologists and historians from all over the world caused a great stir. The Romanian authorities decided to reconsider their decision on gold mining. According to Greenpeace, they want to wait for the results of a new environmental report.

But why?? An expert opinion from the University of Vienna has already determined that cyanide mining violates EU law, which is already being taken into account in Romania. Forced relocations are also unlawful. So the Romanian authorities may have been playing for time and waiting for the international attention to subside? One of the initiators of the petition, Ioan Piso, professor of ancient history at the University of Cluj and director of the local museum, is currently facing accusations that he is in the service of foreigners, namely Hungarians. This was found out by the Romanian State Security Service, several newspapers reported.

In einem offenen Brief an den Chef des Rumanischen Geheimdienst (SRI) Radu Timofte auberte Ioan Piso seinen Verdacht, hier fande ein Einschuchterungsmanover statt: “In my opinion, there are people who want to associate SRI’s name with that of Gold Corporation just to scare us because I believe that a secret service such as ours is actually focusing its activity on protecting Romania’s fundamental interests and that the unprofessional way in which it approached the matter in mass-media is not typical of the SRI." Wenn also nicht der SRI dahinter steckt: Wer dann?

Andrerseits kursieren in Rumanien Geruchte, zwischen dem rumanischen Geheimdienst und der Rosia Montana Gold Corporation existierten enge Verbindungen. So soll der Chef von Gabriel Resources, Frank Timis, eine Geheimdienst-Konferenz gesponsert haben. Isn’t it strange, writes Piso, that Romania got only twenty percent of the profits in Rosia Montana?? And the rest of this strategic gold reserve of Romania would go to a foreign state? Didn’t the Romanian state security service have to intervene?? There was no mention of corruption in the letter.

The German Mining Museum in Bochum is showing an exhibition until 5. August 2003 the exhibition: The Gold of the Carpathians. Mining in Rosia Montana