Wednesday, 16. April 2014 - 15:04
11. 04. 12. - 15:00
The new Minister of Environment Atilla Korodi says his first priority is to make a thorough assessment over the Rosia Montana gold extraction project in order to make a final decision, local media informs today (Thurs).
Korodi was sworn in last night (Tues) at Cotroveni Palace, where President Traian Basescu urged him to give the go ahead to the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation mining project. Basescu, an open supporter of the project, said his recommendation to the government is to decide whether to give the go ahead or not having in mind the creation of jobs.
The president asked the members of the cabinet to deliver the go ahead based on the necessary documentation or to say "no" to the Canadian investor quickly.
"Since 1997, the Romanian authorities denied their responsibilities for Rosia Montana. If you consider that the exploitation is feasible and if you think that by creating jobs we are helping Romania, I am asking you to give rapid approval (…), Basescu said.
The president also backed the shale gas exploitation, by saying that Romania did not have the financial means, the billions of Euros as he said, to import the technology to extract gold, copper and shale gas respecting the environment. "Therefore, the partnership with foreign companies seems to me the only solution," he said.
Last year, after a Defence Council meeting, Traian Basescu publicly urged the government to create jobs by starting the exploitation of mineral resources, such as gold at Rosia Montana.
The new minister was very cautious in his statements after the president’s speech and did not seem to rush into taking a decision. He told RFI that the current environment legislation did not cover such a gigantic project as the Rosia Montana gold mining project. "This project requires the government to assume several development policies. (…). In the next weeks, I will make a thorough assessment of each technical detail presented in the past three years in the framework of the evaluation process," he said.
The minister warned that the evaluation process needed a thorough evaluation as it would have a trans-border environment impact in Hungary as well.
"The real question is if this solution is good for Romania in what concerns the environment legislation and the durable development," Korodi said.
The minister stressed that the problem of industrial waste, not only cyanide but other waste as well is not the only negative aspect of the project. Therefore we need a more complex approach. (…)", Korodi stressed.
Korody is a member of the Hungarian Democratic Union in Romania (UDMR), part of the cabinet coalition. The opposition speculated that the previous minister Laszlo Borbely, also in UDMR had upset the power when he refused to give the clearance for the gold extraction at Rosia Montana.
Borbely resigned last Thursday after Anti-Corruption prosecutors had started a criminal investigation on suspicions of corruption but the opposition suggests his criminal file is political.
Borbely who denies any wrongdoing, is suspected of giving several public contracts to a company in the absence of public tenders against refurbishing works to his personal apartment, estimated at some 20,000 Euros.
The gold mine project has stirred up a lot of controversy in Romania, with civil society and environment activists warning that the use of cyanide would destroy the area, under UNESCO protection.
More recently, on the back of the economic crisis and rising unemployment, the mining project has gained more support. According to a study, carried out in February, 82 per cent of Romanians allegedly supported the mining operations at Rosia Montana.
According to the National Agency for Mineral Resources, the Rosia Montana gold reserves are estimated to be 300 tonnes, while the total gold reserves of the country are put at some 700 tonnes.
The company which plans to extract 300 tonnes of gold and 1,600 tonnes of silver from Rosia Montana is owned by Canadian Gabriel Resources (80 per cent), while the Romanian state holds only a 20 per cent stake. The company still awaits environment certificates to start digging for gold, but all environment ministers so far had been reluctant to give their approval to the project.
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