Gabriel Resources threatens Romania with arbitration over murky mine

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Gabriel Resources threatens Romania with arbitration over murky mine

Company initiates formalities to start a dispute settlement for obtaining damages of up to $4billion

Rosia Montana, 21. January 2015 – Formal notification from Gabriel Resources (TSX:GBU) to 'amicably settle differences related to its mine proposal’ is an official and at the same time desperate confirmation that it can’t continue develop the Rosia Montana mine. 15 years after starting it all off, the company’s management has now initiated formal steps to start arbitration to avoid acknowledging failure. The notification inviting for amicable conciliation is the first step towards international arbitration; the ultimate blackmail and threat available to try pressure the Romanian state. Moreover, the notification sent to the Government and the President of Romania is also a desperate public relations effort to create the image of an investor being a victim blocked in a complex Romanian socio-political context.

Gabriel Resources threatened to sue the Romanian government since September 2013 for up to $4-billion “for multiple breaches of investment treaties.” $4-billion is equivalent to 2% of the country’s annual GDP. Gabriel’s CEO, Jonathan Henry, the company’s sixth boss, warned that the government’s failure to approve the project would damage all of Romania.

News coverage so far highlighted case studies when arbitration cases were won by miners as a result of threats made and negotiations conducted behind closed doors. For Gabriel Resources, an inexperienced mining junior, arbitration would be a totally new experience and a main course of action could be the co-involvement of factors of decision. This suspicion is generated by the many failures that marked Gabriel Resources and its subsidiaries’ activities which over the course of several years consisted in burning investors’ money rather fast. This practice continued, despite being refused funding by institutions such as the World Bank Group’s IFC (2002) or accident insurance cover by the Allianz Group (2013). Moreover, before Gabriel settled in Rosia Montana in 1997, the deposit was analyzed by several other miners and swiftly abandoned due to the high risks associated and the impossibility of fulfilling legal conditions. Gabriel did not properly assess the risk of opening Europe’s largest gold mine in a inhabited village that moreover, houses unique archaeological remains of world renown.

“Gabriel’s mine was irrevocably rejected by Romania’s civil society despite the company’s attempts to conduct costly cosmetic surgery to hide its ugly mine together with its disastrous effects to the environment, cultural heritage and human health. Its manipulative media campaigns were considered as an insult by many Romanians. It would be a pity if via the same kind of manipulation they would now highlight the soundness of their case while encouraging Romanian officials to a poor defence and implicitly, to a share of damages,” said Stephanie Simon, legal adviser of the Alburnus Major NGO [1].

“If investors want to sue someone, then they should sue their employees who took their sugar for years while fuelling them with hopes of enrichment made by Rosia Montana’s destruction. Any attempted bribery offered to Romanian officials prone to corruption will be severely punished by all Romanian citizens. The political forces that continue to support such deals will continue to lose public support; just as they did in the fall of 2013 and again recently,” said Eugen David, president of Alburnus Maior.

Additional information

Financial risks, political, legal and social aspects of the Rosia Montana proposal were communicated to investors and Gabriel Resources’ management by civil society organizations since 2004. Anticipating Surprise - Assessing Risk  - a report published by Alburnus Maior and several partner NGOs detailed these risks and concluded that the works related to the mine proposal are carried out in absence of necessary approvals including an environmental permit. Furthermore, it stated that “investors should be aware that this project is unlikely to be approved by the Romanian authorities. But, as long as investors are willing to back this investment, unscrupulous officials will take advantage and insist on further conditions, investigations, research and bureaucratic paper work.”

A further report entitled Rosia Montana Risk Analysis Update for Gabriel Resources’ investors was published in November 2007. It stresses that any investor carrying out his or her proper risk analysis should carefully consider the many lawsuits and other legal obstacles that accumulated over the years and that continue to show the proposal’s true face. The report concluded that “any investor conducting risk assessment with due diligence needs to take account of the many legal judgments and other hurdles that have accumulated over many years and which continue to de-rail the Rosia Montana proposal. Alburnus Maior and its partner NGOs will continue to file legal challenges in order to ensure that the law is properly upheld and enforced. Any investor hoping that risks attached to the project will conveniently vanish should an Environmental Agreement be granted has deliberately chosen not to understand the issues at play.”

For more information please contact Ștefania Simion, mobile: +40 (0)741-137266, email: alburnusmaior@ngo.ro

[1] Alburnus Maior is an NGO based in Rosia Montana. It represents the interests of local property owners who since 2000 oppose Gabriel’s proposal on social, environmental, cultural and economic grounds. See www.rosiamontana.org