Alburnus Maior * EARTHWORKS * Friends of the Earth
Greenpeace in Romania * MiningWatch Canada
80 organizations across Europe and North America sign statement in support of Rosia Montana community, in advance of film screening at National Geographic
January 23: Eighty organizations across Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Canada, and the United States released a statement today highlighting the local, national, and international opposition to the Rosia Montana cyanide open pit gold mine project in Romania, refuting accusations of “exaggerations and misleading claims” in a recent film entitled “Mine Your Own Business.” The film was financed by Gabriel Resources, the Toronto-based mining company that wants to build the Rosia Montana mine.
Contrary to the film's portrayal, local opposition to the project is strong and organized. The statement urges the public to read a message sent by Eugen David, president of Alburnus Maior, a local association based in Rosia Montana which represents families that oppose the mine and refuse to sell their lands to Gabriel Resources. Eugen David was not interviewed by the makers of “Mine of Your Own Business” despite them being well aware of the association's existence.
If constructed, Rosia Montana would be Europe's largest gold mine and transform the Rosia Montana valley into four open-pit mines, and the neighboring Corna valley into a tailings dam to hold the mine's toxic waste. Both valleys are densely inhabited, and the project would require 2,000 people to move out of their homes and also lead to the destruction of churches, cemeteries, farm lands, and unique cultural and archaeological treasures in the area.
“Mine Your Own Business doesn't talk about any of this but instead is a propaganda film paid for by Gabriel Resources which wants to make a lot of money from all this destruction,” wrote Eugen David in his message from Rosia Montana. “If anything, this film is reminiscent of times that are long over and does not portray the situation as it is at Rosia Montana.”
Within Romania, Rosia Montana has become an issue of national significance, with over 96 percent of Romanians opposing the project. The widespread opinion is that the political decision-making about the project is riddled with corruption. The European Parliament has also cautioned against the environmental threat the Rosia Montana project poses not just to Romania but to the whole region, and Romania's neighbor Hungary, whose eastern rivers face the risk of pollution stemming from the mine, has pointed to serious flaws in the project's environmental impact assessment and officially asked for the environmental permit not to be granted.
“It's important for the public to get the facts about the Rosia Montana project,” said Radhika Sarin, international campaign coordinator of Earthworks. “Not only are the environmental risks high, but property owners, including churches and local families, such as those of Eugen David, are facing the threat of expropriation. This is a serious human rights issue.”
“In order to justify its risky venture, Gabriel Resources touts local employment, but the mine is expected to create a few hundred jobs, and it is unclear if local people will have the necessary qualifications to fill these positions,” said Joan Kuyek, national coordinator of MiningWatch Canada.
The upcoming screening of the film on Wednesday at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC has prompted strong criticism from environmental organizations, particularly in Romania and Hungary, and from Stephanie Roth, a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, a prestigious award known popularly as the Nobel prize for the environment. Roth accepted the prize at the National Geographic Society in 2005 for her ongoing work to prevent the destruction of Rosia Montana.
“It is sad and outrageous that such a renowned center of environmental research has agreed to screen this anti-environmental film. It aims to manipulate the public and does not reflect the values of the National Geographic Society,” said Roth. “Gabriel Resources has chosen the National Geographic Society to greenwash its spoilt image and brainwash those it needs to impress. In 2005, the National Geographic Channel cancelled Gabriel Resources's television ads after the Romanian public protested. I hope the National Geographic Society will follow by putting values such as integrity and responsibility above money.”