The Save Romania Union has urged the government to honor a promise to list Rosia Montana, the mountain which sits on important gold reserves and is at the center of a $4.4 billion arbitration dispute, as a UNESCO heritage site.
Senators Vlad Alexandrescu and Mihai Gotiu made the appeal to Prime Minister Ludovic Orban who heads the minority Liberal government, and Culture Minister Bogdan Gheorghiu on Wednesday, Romania’s National Day of Culture.”
They said such a gesture would mean more than festive activities organized by the government on Wednesday to mark the day.
Listing the site as a heritage site would prevent mining for gold in the area, opponents of the project say.
“It’s something which the most active Romanian citizens have showed that want without a shadow of doubt,” a statement said. “It was one of the demands in the autumn of 2013 which saw tens of thousands of people on the streets for 3 ½ months.”
Bucharest officially withdrew its support for the project in 2014, after revoking a bill that would have allowed the mine to go ahead following the protests. The government said it was concerned over the use of cyanide in the extraction process.
Gabriel Resources which owns a majority stake in the gold mine project filed a lawsuit against Romania in 2015 for $4.4 billion in alleged losses related to the company’s stalled Rosia Montana gold and silver project.
The Save Romania Union has criticized a decision by the previous Social Democratic government to postpone the inclusion of Rosia Montana on the World Heritage list.
UNESCO decided to postpone the listing “due to ongoing international arbitrage”. following the request by the Romanian government.
Gabriel Resources had expected a hearing on the merits of its suit filed at a World Bank tribunal to take place in December 2019.
The open pit operation would have been Europe’s largest gold mine and, according to the company, it would have injected up to $24 billion into Romania’s economy.