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31 January 2014

A tribunal in Romania has suspended a key archaeological discharge certificate (ADC) of Gabriel Resources – a Canadian miner – for the exploitation of gold and silver at Rosia Montana’s Mount Carnic – the Transylvanian village’s largest and richest mountain.

Three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Alburnus Maior, the Independent Center for the Development of Environmental Resources, and Save Bucharest – applied for the suspension of the ADC pending a court case to nullify the permit.

The next court date is set to take place in Buzau, and will be held on 10 February.

Gabriel Resources is now facing one of its biggest setbacks in its controversial mining project to date, but still holds two other ADCs for the project’s Ceteate and Jig open pits.

Mount Carnic has some of the oldest Roman gold mine galleries in the world, and is being called for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by campaign groups.

ADCs are required by European law for various parts of the proposed mine to ensure that historical artifacts will be protected.

Professor Andrew Wilson, one of three British experts who carried out the statement of interest report on Rosia Montana’s cultural heritage in 2011, said: “Rosia Montana is a particularly important example not only of Roman gold mining, but of the history of gold mining over the last 1900 years. If this [ruling] is not overturned, this is very good news for the cultural heritage of Rosia Montana.”

“Our initial statement of interest was used as a key piece of evidence in the case, I think that’s very encouraging.”

The Canadian junior mining company’s proposed project has been met with fierce international opposition over the past 14 years, but particularly since August last year, when Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta passed a bill effectively giving the mine’s go-ahead.

Over planned 16-year period the controversial project was geared up to extract 314 tonnes of gold, 1,500 tonnes of silver, flatten four mountain tops, and deposit a massive waste lake containing cyanide.

The company’s planned use of cyanide in the project – a toxic chemical used in the process of gold extraction – is of particular concern to protestors opposing Gabriel Resources’ plans.

In December last year, a parliamentary vote ruled against a bill that would’ve allowed the Rosia Montana project to proceed.

CEO and president of Gabriel Resources, Jonathan Henry, said in a statement: “We remain committed to our goal of building one of Europe’s most modern mines in Rosia Montana, developed in full compliance with Romanian and European Union legislation, using the best available practices and sympathetic to the cultural heritage of the area.”