European Protests Mount Around Canadian Gold Project in Romania

Today, in major cities across Europe, hundreds of people gathered outside Canadian embassies to protest Canadian Gabriel Resources’ proposed open cast gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania.

The demonstrations took place in Budapest, Amsterdam, Vienna, Bratislava and Prague. In Bucharest, the protestors demanded that the Canadian Ambassador visit the site in the Apuseni Mountains to see the project’s impacts for himself.

“The Canadian government has to act to stop this mine. It will destroy the homes, churches and livelihoods of my people,” said Sorana Ciura, a member of Alburnus Maior, the Romanian group spearheading the protests, speaking at a press conference in Canada. Ms. Ciura’s family come from Rosia Montana.

The mine will be on the site of Romania’s oldest known settlement, Rosia Montana. It will destroy over 900 homes, 750 farms, 10 historic churches and their cemeteries, as well as 33 national heritage buildings and archaeological treasures. Over 1000 academics, church groups, scientists and institutions in Romania and elsewhere have lent their support to the campaign.

“This mining project will contribute little to the economy of Romania, does not meet World Bank standards for resettlement or environmental protection, and will create hardship for the local people”, said Joan Kuyek of MiningWatch Canada. “It is one more example of an ill-conceived Canadian mining project ruining Canada's reputation abroad.”

Although Gabriel has not yet submitted their environmental impact statement for the gold project to the Romanian government, the company has been resettling residents since April 2002, accelerating the program in May 2003.

In October 2002, the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, rejected the project on environmental and social grounds. A year later, the company has secured a $45 million bought deal through a consortium of Canadian banks and brokers, and is looking elsewhere for financing.

Fraser Reilly-King of the NGO Working Group on EDC is concerned that Export Development Canada will consider financing the project. “I don’t see how even Export Development Canada could finance this project if it truly benchmarks projects against international standards, like the World Bank’s,” he said, “but then EDC has a bad track record for showing it cares about the environment more than business.”

The eleven year project will destroy a series of pre-roman ruins to extract the sizeable amounts of gold and silver. To remain profitable, however, the low grade ore is dependent on a strong gold price.

Contacts: Fraser Reilly-King at (613) 789-4447, or Joan Kuyek at (613) 569-3439.

*NGO Working Group on EDC:

  • Canadian Auto Workers
  • Canadian Council for International Cooperation
  • Canadian Friends of Burma
  • Canadian Labour Congress
  • Canadian Lawyers Association for International Human Rights
  • CUSO
  • Democracy Watch
  • Development and Peace
  • Falls Brook Centre
  • KAIROS - Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  • MiningWatch Canada
  • RESULTS Canada
  • Rights & Democracy
  • Sierra Club of Canada Nuclear Campaign
  • Social Justice Committee
  • Steelworkers Humanity Fund
  • Toronto Environmental Alliance
  • West Coast Environmental Law Association

A Working Group of the Halifax INITIATIVE d’Halifax
A Canadian coalition for global economic democracy – Une coalition canadienne pour la démocratie économique mondiale
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