The Rosia Montana Issue

Rosia Montana

Tăul Mare in the Romanian Carpathian
mountains. Photo by Alexandra Dodu

As I look out the window of the train I see stunning views of the Carpathian mountains in Romania. What I see reminds me of Canada. The spectacular Transylvanian landscape takes me back to Gatineau Park and the rolling hills of Quebec and Ontario. When the train stops at small town stations I feel as if I have arrived in small town Canada. Whenever the train crosses the two lane highways and dirt tracks cutting through acres of farmland, I remember driving through our country roads. From personal encounters I know the people here are warm and welcoming, people who will gladly share the best they have to offer with a complete stranger. Yep, looking out from the window of the train I can easily mistake this picturesque land to be Canada.

Even at this level not everything is the same though. There are differences that may not be as apparent to you and me but to only a handful of our fellow countrymen. They see these differences as opportunity to exploit the land and use methods to destroy its ecosystem by means not acceptable by Canada itself. Over the past year I have been hearing of statements saying that “Canadians want to destroy the Carpathians to mine for gold”. More recently when the when demonstrations broke out in Romania against the government passing a bill to allow mining in Rosia Montana, I finally learned what is going on and the “Canadian” involvement in the destruction of environment.

Gabriel Resources Ltd. is a Canadian TSX-listed (GBU.TSX) company, headquartered in the United Kingdom. Under the banner of Rosia Montana Gold Corporation S.A. which holds mining rights in Romania has been seeking permission to build an open cast mine. The project, as presented, would require heavy use of toxic cyanide, spoil mountain peaks, and completely annihilate the cultural and archeological heritage of the region. In Canada cyanide is considered a hazardous substance and is firmly regulated. In Romania, regulation is not that simple and the best of example of that was a major cyanide spill in Baia Mures in Romania that caused considerable damage to the environment. Moreover, the site marked for mining is protected under the national legal system and was declared as the rural area with the richest heritage in Romania. Imagine a foreign company with the rights to dig up Halifax to for oil and demolishishing historic sites such as Pier 21 and the Citadel were a part of the deal. Does not sound right to me but this what may happen in Rosia Montana for a royalty of 20% paid to the Romanian government for their cooperation and displacing citizens from a region with history dating back to the 2nd century.

Traditions in Rosia Montana

People preserve centuries old culture and practices in throughout the Carpathians in Eastern Europe. Photo by Lorin Niculae

We Canadians pride ourselves in being the friendliest nation on the planet. For our contributions to international humanitarian efforts, for protecting human rights and freedoms, and for welcoming from people around the world. Yet, it seems, that the narrative about Canadia is changing to one that does not meet the represent Canadian citizens. The Roşia Montană issue is one that Romanians need to resolve on their own by engaging their leadership to make the right choice. But as a Canadian I feel uneasy about how generations of Romanians will remember us if this project goes through.

I don’t know what we, Canadians, can do to support the case to protect Rosia Montana. Nor do I know how we can create policies to so that companies bearing the Canadian flag adhere to the same standards when conducting business around the world, as we expect them to in Canada. For my part I feel that I can atleast share this story with you as you ought to know how we are being represented at times around the world.

Note to Romanians – Canadians are not their multinational companies working around the world. Many of us are just as concerned about the environmental, cultural, and archeological hazards that the Rosia Montana project proposes and we’re here to offer you our support however we can.

How can we help?

Links & Resources:

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *