Economy and Environment: no compromise in a new era for Romanian Mining

Written by Dragos Tanase

Dragos Tanase is the General Manager of the Roşia Montană Gold Corporation.

Directorul-general-al-companiei-Rosia-Montana-Gold-Corporation-RMGC-Dragos-TanaseJobs, economic growth, the revival of our moribund mining sector – and the highest environmental and safety standards.

That’s what the Roşia Montană project will bring to Romania.

There’s no compromise involved. No trade-off. We can have all of these things. Indeed we must have all of them, because – in a modern mining industry – they all depend upon one another.

And with Roşia Montană we will see the birth of just such a modern mining industry in our country. And that’s good news after some very hard times for the mining sector here.

On Romania’s accession to the European Union at the start of 2007 many pits were shut because they could not meet exacting EU standards. While these closures were necessary, they led to massive job losses and the virtual death of a Romanian mining industry which stretched back 2,000 years.

Now, through the investment by Roşia Montană Gold Corporation (RMGC) and a fundamental commitment to meet or exceed tough European standards, we will see the dawn of a new and positive era for the sector. The Roşia Montană gold mine alone is forecast to create and support around 3,600 jobs when it is fully operational, and thousands more for suppliers and support businesses.

A new era for the mining industry in Romania will create many thousands of jobs, spread prosperity across Romania and benefit the environment. The positive impact will be felt by everyone from taxi-drivers to shopkeepers, and from builders to restaurant workers. Revenue from the Roşia Montană mine will help to modernise local infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and transport. These extra jobs and incomes are desperately needed in an area of widespread deprivation with unemployment currently above 65 per cent.

In fact RMGC has already invested millions in improving local housing and building new facilities for people in the region. It’s estimated that unemployment would have topped the 90 percent mark without the company’s investment; this even before the mine has opened.

But it is not just the local area which will see major positive economic changes. Seventy-eight percent of the overall benefits from the mine will stay in Romania. The nation will own 25 percent of the mining project outright, and is due a six percent royalty on the sale of every ounce of gold and silver produced. Over the life of the mine Romania’s stake will be worth billions of dollars to the Romanian budget.

I know that fears have been expressed about the potential effect of the Roşia Montană gold mine on the environment and even on health. I can understand, having heard some of the claims that have been made, why people might be worried. But I can also assure you that if they were true, I would not be involved.

I hope when people read about our plans and the rigorous safeguards we are putting in place they will recognise our determination to meet or exceed the very highest European standards. Importantly, the practices we will use will be state of the art, using best available techniques, highly regulated and highly monitored.

This hasn’t always been the case in the past in the mining industry in our country. Operations were all too often antiquated, polluting and dangerous. Health and environmental rules were too lax and frequently ignored. Historic mining operations around Roşia Montană have left local rivers with dangerous levels of pollution. The area is littered with abandoned open pits, derelict buildings and rusting equipment.

We are committed to repairing this damage. The clean-up by RMGC will start immediately, and indeed a great deal of preparatory work has already been done. RMGC has restored hundreds of culturally significant buildings and is working with the Romanian National Museum on archaeological projects. A new cultural and heritage centre will be built at Roşia Montană, which will help boost tourism.

During the life of the mine, and even before the mine commences operation, we will put modern systems in place to reduce the pollution in local waterways to the levels demanded by strict EU law. When the mine’s working life is over, the area will be landscaped and restored to a state not previously enjoyed by its inhabitants.

No ifs or buts. From beginning to end, this is good news for Romania.