Romanian villagers resist mine owners' plans
Published Aug 31, 2007 6:56 PM
Rosia Montana is a small village in the nation of Romania. At one time it had
jobs for all. Healthcare was provided to all citizens free of charge. There was
full employment and many in the town worked in the local mines. Life was not
perfect, but the economy was planned under the leadership of the Romanian
Communist Party and was not dictated by the profit motive.
This is not the case anymore. Now the people of Rosia Montana make an average
of $3 a day and live in poverty. The main source of income for the people of
Romania’s countryside is now tourism in the summer and what they can fish
or grow for themselves in the other seasons.
In these circumstances, the Gabriel Mining Co. has decided to destroy the town
of Rosia Montana and make it the site of a mile-wide gold mine.
Gabriel Mining, which is based in Toronto, Canada, is owned by Frank Timis.
According to Dundee Securities, a financial securities firm, he was twice
convicted of possessing heroin with intent to sell. (earthworksaction.org) But
then Timis realized that, under the new capitalist system now installed in
Eastern Europe, he could make more money exploiting natural resources than
selling drugs. He now owns oil wells in Europe and some diamond mines in
Africa—an industry known for its horrific conditions.
Timis has now turned his eyes toward the village of Rosia Montana. The soil
there contains what is left of a gold vein that once went through the village.
The project calls for destroying the houses, shops and schools so the mining
company can use the deadly chemical cyanide to leach even little gold particles
from the soil and turn it into jewelry for the wealthy of this world.
In the path of this proposed mine are not only 900 homes but also nine
cemeteries and eight churches, motivating even the Catholic Church to raise its
voice against this project.
The people of Romania witnessed an environmental and economic disaster in 2000
when cyanide used in mining spilled into the Danube River, killing all the fish
in 250 miles of the river and its tributaries. Besides destroying an important
food supply, the poisonous chemicals contaminated the drinking water of 2.5
The fish population of Romania has declined rapidly thanks to pollution caused
by new privately owned industries. The Romanian government is considering
banning fishing altogether, which would make it a crime to do what so many
Romanians now have to do merely to survive.
The State Environmental Resource Center of Wisconsin says there is no safe way
to use cyanide for mining. So what does Gabriel Mining propose to do with all
the cyanide-laced waste it will produce from this operation? It will build a
1,482-acre “storage pond” in the nearby valley of Corna, where
196.4 million tons of cyanide-laced waste will be stored behind a cement
In the new Eastern Europe, the ideology of communism is said to have been
“refuted” and profit is now in command. There are no state
committees made of workers and peasants to regulate the activities of mining
companies. Those who would work in the proposed mine, if ever built, would have
no say in how their workplace was run, or what actions the company would
Interviews with people in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are
beginning to show that, while the socialized economy that once existed there
may have been greatly flawed, the return of these nations to the rule of
private ownership over society’s wealth has made life much worse for the
majority of the people.
Now a coalition of groups seeks to make sure that Gabriel Mining’s plans
for Rosia Montana are not put into practice.
“It’s been six years they’ve been terrorizing us into
moving,” a resident of Rosia Montana told Businesswire. “But we
didn’t go, and we won’t go.”
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