Modern mining can enhance biodiversity

Written by Catalin Hosu

Struan Stevenson, MEP and President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development has written an article “How major extraction & mining projects can help Europe meet its 2020 biodiversity targets.” In it he argues that regulated economic development can “maintain and even enhance biodiversity” and he highlights several of the key benefits of the Roşia Montană project and its commitments to corporate responsibility as examples.

Mr. Stevenson is addressing a very important issue and references an article published in the Economist on 14th September, “Hang On,” which argues that more growth, not less, is the best hope for averting a sixth great extinction. The argument that economic growth can maintain and also augment biodiversity is one that Roşia Montană Gold Corporation (RMGC) is eager to prove – we take our responsibility for the environment very seriously.

Mr Stevenson refers to the environmental rehabilitation scheme and the measures that have already been put in place by RMGC to tackle the severe pollution from historical, unregulated mining activities. Modern mining is different: the net impact on the environment will be positive, not negative. RMGC will clean up existing contamination including heavy metals in the area’s watercourses and the Roşia Montană mine will introduce biodiversity protection measures during the lifetime of its operation as well as initiate steps to include enhancing biodiversity on the site after mining operations have ceased.

Protests against the proposed Roşia Montană gold mine have sought to place environmental concerns as more important than potential economic growth. But this standpoint is wrong. Stevenson highlighted this reality in his recent blog post:

“There have been many protests about potential pollution, environmental damage and biodiversity loss, but the company – Roşia Montană Gold Corporation (RMGC), keen to allay fears, has gone to great lengths and considerable expense to produce an eco-friendly project that ticks all of the biodiversity boxes.”

Given these environmental safeguards, there is also no trade-off between the environment and the economy. Roşia Montană and Romania can have them both – and in better shape than they find them today.

This sort of economic and environmental progress is in line with the EU’s aspirations for responsible development. The EU should encourage the Rosia Montana gold mine: As Stevenson writes, “This is the kind of corporate responsibility that the EU insists in shaping its 2020 biodiversity targets.”

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