calin on Thu, 6 Mar 2003 23:28:44 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Romania is getting global

I don't know how much attention the developments in
central-southern-easter europe grab on the list in those hot pre-war
times.  Towards none, I should say. Which might be a pitty, because an
interesting new fault line is designing in that area, between western
Europe as a potential development partner falling quickly from favors, and
the aggressively self-imposing US, who became suddenly interested in
pushing the agenda of NATO integration for countries kept until now at the
doors of Europe. If Czech republic has already a foot in that door and
indulges itself in snubbing EU integration, if Poland is bargaining hard
its participation in the European community, places like Romania, Bulgaria
etc. are more than eager to get there, and a pro-US anti-Franco/German
position is the smallest problem. Traditional allies and players in the
area, France and Germany failed to fulfill the expectations of those
peoples, as Western Europe failed to get a clean cut in the misery of the
latest balkan wars.

The outcome is a strange mixture of voluptous submission to the US
pressures (see the military bases appearing over night, and without any
legal debate in the south east of Romania) and total ignorance of any
implications that a commitment to this type of policies might bring upon a
country that is, after all, part of an uncertain tactical context.

Meanwhile, the common places of globalization are at works: poisonous
media entertainment, rampant poverty of the poor, excessive richness for
few, corrupt governance and business environments, high pollution, and now
pyramid schemes at governmental level.

Here is in short the scandal of Rosia Montana, an ecological and
archeological paradise, put by the Romanian government at high risk due to
obscure speculations on the price of gold (that is the cover story), but
probably just another fund-squeeze/money-laundry scheme at international
level.. After literally cluttering the country with casinos, the money
launderers world wide found a new scheme - cyanide mining. For more
details see

Rosia Montana Gold Corporation has been formed as a joint-venture between
Minvest, a Romanian, state-owned company and Gabriel Resources, registered
in Toronto and, offshore, in Barbados and Jersey. Gabriel Resources, which
has no mining experience, holds 80% of the shares. Many economists and
independent mining experts state that the project is not viable and is a
scam of a type previously seen in the mining industry - eg Bre-X,
Indonesia. Romania's national interest and that of the local people are
not being considered. The sole beneficiaries would be the proponents of
the scheme - both in business and in authority.

Officials and corruption attract each other like oppositely magnetised
poles in Romania.

Relatively little of the promised $400 million investment would be spent
in Romania. The Romanian government would receive 2% of any profit so
Romania's natural and cultural heritage would be gambled without the
nation becoming a significant stakeholder. The International Finance
Corporation (World Bank) has declined to invest.

Economics and environment are in conflict and the projected costs do not
reflect environmental controls that will certainly be necessary unless the
government takes the huge risk of flouting EU requirements whilst
negotiating entry to the EU. If the project were to proceed, a million
units of landscape (see photos) would be destroyed to obtain one unit of
gold. There would be explosions day and night for many years. The
topography would be devastated, hills transformed into massive craters in
a toxic, sterile desert.

Cyanide compounds would be employed to dissolve out the gold from the
pulverised rock. Although cyanide is incompatible with life, 16000 tonnes
of the lethal material would be utilised every year. There would be an
unlined, open holding lagoon for 250 million tonnes of cyanide solution in
contravention of EU law and 10km upstream of a town of 13000 population.

Several villages are located on the site of the proposed open-cast mine.
880 dwellings will be demolished and hundreds of smallholdings that
sustain families will be destroyed. More than 2000 people will be uprooted
and relocated, the majority against their informally expressed wishes.
There has been no formal consultation process. This contravenes the
European Convention on Human Rights, by which Romania is bound. A large
proportion of families have been established in the area for many
generations. The upheaval will undoubtedly result in deaths amongst the
frail and the elderly.

Apuseni is rich in resources other than gold. It has outstandingly
beautiful scenery, history and rich archaeology - both ancient and
industrial. It has forests and good terrain for grazing animals. There
should be a viable future for the people of the area based on tourism,
agriculture, timber products, craft enterprises, appropriate light
industry. The alternatives would be better than a single, short-lived
industry that exports any profit along with the gold and leaves a toxic
desert, a devastated landscape in which life will never again flourish.

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