Saturday, September 1, 2007

Romanian villagers resist mine owners' plans

By Caleb T. Maupin
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 million people.

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 dam.

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 take.

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.”

Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

8 comments:

mark_beachill said...

Workers World: Long Live the Socialist Museum of Romania

Workers World, strapline “workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite” once campaigned to keep mines open, however, in our strange new world, it has joined billionaire gold-mine owner George Soros, some deep dark Greens, “even the Catholic Church” and an unattributable “resident of Rosia Montana” to oppose the terrorist campaign of a big bad mining company - headed by a former “heroin dealer” - hell bent on destroying the Romanian fish population, poisoning the drinking water with cyanide, re-establishing the “horrific conditions” of the mining industry and destroying the village (especially its houses and schools) all to provide golden trinkets for the rich. You couldn’t make it up.

Workers World is very afraid of the future. In a piece gilded with paeans to the Romanian socialist state it has picked on what is today an easy target: the big bad capitalist corporation. It shares with its new bedfellows, various greens, a fear of development. The past seemed comprehensible, though “greatly flawed” it had full employment planned by state committees of workers and peasants. The capitalist present seems incomprehensible brutish and nasty. Like its new environmentalist friends it has an allergic reaction to the plans of mega-corporations: “please, please lets go back, lets not dig up the earth you will just destroy everything”.

Fortunately more sensible heads are about.

On the views of the local population: “The local mayor - who supports the mine - was re-elected with a near 90% majority. Candidates openly opposed to the mine polled less than 10%.” (Myth 1 http://www.goldenmyths.com/myth_1.aspx)

On the big bad corporation: The company is “Buying properties at full replacement cost (the amount required to replace assets in their existing condition) rather than the market value for the property, which would be either very low or negligible nothing in such an economically depressed area” (Myth 1 http://www.goldenmyths.com/myth_1.aspx)

On the environment now: “Currently the local environment has 110 times the legal limit of zinc, 64 times the legal limit of iron and 3.4 times the legal limit of arsenic. Leaving the old workings to nature will dramatically increase pollution; this is before Gabriel/RMGC, accused of pollution, has yet to mine a gram of gold. “ (Myth 2 http://www.goldenmyths.com/myth_2.aspx )

On the mine improving the environment: “The valley in which the village lies, the Corna valley, will be filled at the end of the operation, covered with clay, layered then covered with top soil, then re-vegetated. It will end-up as an artificially created plateau, the largest flat-area in the region ready to be handed back to the Romanian people.” (Myth 2 http://www.goldenmyths.com/myth_2.aspx )

On the Romanian government and the golden trinkets: Indeed, the Romanian government actually owns 20 per cent of the mine and so stands to gain at minimum 20 per cent of the $5.9 billion dollars profit, before any taxation is taken into account. (From Myth 6, http://www.goldenmyths.com/myth_6.aspx )

As Workers World explains the current situation is pretty dire for the locals: “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.”

So I invite Workers World to read our humble set of myths and try to embrace progress. Mining has provided employment for the people of Rosia Montana for centuries they know about the industry they are not afraid. The potential to improve the environment, create employment and infrastructure and possibly give the region a lift into the twenty-first century cannot be ignored.

This may not be the future that Workers World imagined, but rather than hang on to the past and hang out with their “back to the land” buddies – maybe, just maybe, WW could see that to those not infected by the ideology that despises the present and hates the world that man has created, actually want investment and want to give the future a go.

Mark Beachill 4 September 2007

For the full article:
http://www.workers.org/2007/world/romania-0906/

Anonymous said...

I thought you Marxsits were supposed to have honesty on your side? Where is your answer to this critique Caleb?????

Anonymous said...

I was right, you have no arguments, how is this a blog? Im righting from Bucharest about the mine, your challenged and you don't have the arguments to respond, youy seam to me be a silly boy. Please don't write about us any more.

Anonymous said...

On the mine improving the environment: “The valley in which the village lies, the Corna valley, will be filled at the end of the operation, covered with clay, layered then covered with top soil, then re-vegetated. It will end-up as an artificially created plateau, the largest flat-area in the region ready to be handed back to the Romanian people.” (Myth 2 http://www.goldenmyths.com/myth_2.aspx )

Yea, maybe we can build a school or a playground on top of the tons of cynide waste. Perhaps Mr. Timis can move his mansion there.

Anonymous said...

On the environment now: “Currently the local environment has 110 times the legal limit of zinc, 64 times the legal limit of iron and 3.4 times the legal limit of arsenic. Leaving the old workings to nature will dramatically increase pollution; this is before Gabriel/RMGC, accused of pollution, has yet to mine a gram of gold. “ (Myth 2 http://www.goldenmyths.com/myth_2.aspx )

Yes, the soil is so bad now, pumping it full of cyanide won't make any difference.

Anonymous said...

Workers World, strapline “workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite” once campaigned to keep mines open, however, in our strange new world, it has joined billionaire gold-mine owner George Soros, some deep dark Greens, “even the Catholic Church” and an unattributable “resident of Rosia Montana” to oppose the terrorist campaign of a big bad mining company - headed by a former “heroin dealer” - hell bent on destroying the Romanian fish population, poisoning the drinking water with cyanide, re-establishing the “horrific conditions” of the mining industry and destroying the village (especially its houses and schools) all to provide golden trinkets for the rich. You couldn’t make it up.


Dude, you didn't refute a single one of those facts... You just misrepresented half the facts in the article, and dismissed them. Frank Timis is a heroin dealer, the article sites a source. The fish population of Romania is being destroyed. Cyanide mining is unsafe.

You're right, you couldn't make it up! It's the truth. Forgive us, oh persecuted rich man. Nobody understands how hard it is run a company you made with the money you got from turning people in junkies.

Ayn Rand weeps for you, Frank Timis.

Anonymous said...

however, in our strange new world, it has joined billionaire gold-mine owner George Soros, some deep dark Greens, “even the Catholic Church” and an unattributable “resident of Rosia Montana”

Ah, yes, Workers World, the Greens, and George Soros, are so bored they have nothing better to do than bully poor old Frank Timis and keep him from helping the people of Rosia Montana with a charitable mine.

Those leftist bastards!

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would anybody think that the issue here is Frank Timis?!!!