Rosia Montana/Romania, 6. October 2016 – In late September 2016 the arbitration set-up for the Gabriel Resources vs. Romania dispute over the stalled Rosia Montana gold mine development held a hearing at the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). In disregard with official requests submitted to the tribunal by Alburnus Maior three months ago, Romania's government and Gabriel Resources decided to play out their dispute behind closed doors.
6. October 2016 - Alburnus Maior is a non-governmental organisation based in Rosia Montana. It represents the interests of property owners opposing Europe's largest open-pit gold mine proposed by Canadian Gabriel Resources (TSX:GBU) and Romania's government in a joint venture called Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC). Their resistance has been based on social, environmental, economic and cultural heritage grounds and has given rise to the country's largest civil society movement. Even the World Bank Group pulled away from supporting the murky development. Over a period of fifteen years Alburnus Maior intervened in the manifold permitting procedures by carrying out administrative litigation- and criminal complaints. Instead of completing and complying with national procedures, Gabriel Resources registered a case against Romania at the ICSID in 2015 (Case No. ARB/15/31).
In July 2016 Alburnus Maior and its legal team sent a letter to the tribunal in view of intervening as Amicus Curiae. Addressing the Tribunal's president Alburnus Maior asked for the documents submitted to, or issued by the Tribunal should be made available and to be notified when it may submit its intervention. To date Albrnus Maior's request has been ignored while both, the Claimant's or Gabriel Resources and the Respondent or Romania's government opted to refrain the public and exclude those whose fate is at stake. Moreover in a decision taken at the hearing in late September 2016, Romania's government already agreed to drop its VAT assessment towards RMGC meaning that with Romanian taxpayers' dollars at stake in a secretive Washington tribunal, civil society actions were shut down in their efforts to make the proceedings accessible to the Romanian public.
“Both parties to the case are failing to conduct this arbitration in a transparent manner. This lack of transparency is incompatible with Romania's obligations to uphold its citizens rights of access to information,” states Dr. Marcos A. Orellana of Alburnus Maior's legal team at the Centre of International Environmental Law (CIEL).
“The traffic of influence between the Romanian government and Canadian Gabriel Resources is long-standing and proven by courts. They are partners. Citizens action brought their murky venture to a hold and no ISDS case should be allowed to legalise the injustice committed together over several years. We demand a fair case and transparency is the very minimum to ask for. Millions of dollars of Romanian taxpayers money is at stake,”comments Eugen David, Alburnus Maior's president.