15. April 2014 - One of the crucial permits necessary for further continuation of the approval procedure for the cyanide mining project in Rosia Montana has been anulled by court today. The Sibiu Regional Environmental Protection Agency's decision (REPA ) had issued an environmental permit for the "Modified Zoning Plan for the Industrial Development Area of RMGC" that is, as of today, not valid anymore. The procedure for the environmental impact assessment of the new industrial development plan required by the mining company was started in 2006 at the persistence and efforts of NGOs. Prior to these efforts, the environmental authorities considered that the Plan does not have to be subject to an impact assessment procedure as it would not have significant environmental consequences. The cyanide mining project proposed at Rosia Montana by Gabriel Resources would entail, if ever realized, the forced displacement of local people, the destruction of historical monuments and churches, the use of 200,000 tons of cyanide and the transformation of four mountains in open pits.
The procedure thus started included consultations with the authorities and the civil society in Hungary. According to international conventions, any State likely to be affected by adverse transboundary impact of industrial projects may require consultation and can give an advisory opinion. The conclusion of the consulted organizations stated the firm rejection of both the proposed plan and the environmental approval. NGOs in Romania have also contested with solid arguments the entire procedure, from the very early stage of information provided in the environmental report. These interventions, however, have not prevented the Sibiu REPA to issue the environmental permit in March 2011, despite numerous irregularities revealed by the civil society and in the total disregard of the rule of law.
In the law suit initiated by Alburnus Maior, The Independent Centre for the Development of Environmental Resources and Salvati Bucurestiul Association, the organisations claimed that the approval seriously disregards the environmental protection status of natural and historical monuments in Rosia Montana. The decision would even allow the displacement of natural monuments or the destruction of historical relics such as the Roman mine galleries. Moreover, a number of administrative documents which were basis for the approval were themselves previously canceled by courts or have lost their validity.
The law suit won today by Alburnus Maior along with partner organizations and lost by the REPA together with RMGC started at the Cluj Tribunal and was moved to the Covasna Court by decision of the High Court of Cassation and Justice. The annulment of this has two important consequences: in the absence of this document the mining company will not obtain the approval of the Rosia Montana Local Council for the zoning plan and secondly, the existence of a valid environmental approval for the plan is a prerequisite for legaly conducting the environmental permitting procedure.
"The company is being investigated for tax evasion and money laundering in a law suit involving politicians, companies and organized crime. The illegal permits received from the authorities are always canceled by the courts. It’s becoming more and more obvious that the authorities illegitimately favor the company, fueling increasingly justified suspicions of corruption. Cyanide surface mining at Rosia Montana becomes the obsession of an isolated small group of politicians and a company with shady intentions," said Eugen David, President of Alburnus Maior.
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