Rosia Montana/Romania, 13th December 2013 – On 9th December a referendum was held in several communities that would be impacted by restarting mining activities in the Alba County, Western Romania. Despite Despite RMGC’s aggressive PR campaigns and despite RMGC’s desperate efforts to get people to vote, the proposed restarting of gold mining activities failed to secure sufficient support among the local population. A turnout well below the legally required 50% of registered voters (only 43% voted, of whom 36% voted against the proposal) rendered the referendum null and void.
The 15% higher turnout in the parliamentarian elections held on the very same day points to a general mistrust or at the very least a disinterest in RMGC. Evidently, the referendum showed that the local population, in a large majority, was not willing to positively endorse the proposed mining projects. Any claim to the contrary is misleading and dishonest, not least towards current or potential investors in the project. After all, the rule of law and the democratic process take precedence over any private interest or ambition.
The referendum itself was contested by Romanian civil society organisations on several grounds: first and foremost, the referendum has no legal value whatsoever. Further objections included: the short notice given, the nature of the choice of communities where the referendum was to be held, the fact that the authorities did not allocate information tools, media space or debates for objective discussions. According to 67 independent observers that monitored the referendum process, desperate pressure was put on local voters to, firstly, partake in the vote and, secondly, to vote for the RMGC proposal. This included large-scale organized transportation and town majors rallying locals to vote in support of the restarting of mining.
PR campaigns have since long been the tool of choice used by RMGC to try to improve its murky image. To mention one example: Romania’s Press Audit Office (BRAT) estimates that RMGC bought publicity for the written media alone to a value of 1.04 million euros in the first 6 months of 2011. This makes the company the third biggest contractor of this kind in Romania. RMGC’s expenditure is comparable to the advertising budget of the multinational supermarket chain Carrefour which in that same period spent 1.02 million Euros on advertising in Romania. The RMGC presence in Romania’s written press, however, is small compared to its internet and TV campaigns. The budgets for these campaigns are unknown. Several of RMGC’s TV spots have been successfully contested on various occasions by Romanian civil society organisations due to their misleading claims.
“After all these millions of euros spent in attempting to ‘greenwash’ its dirty mine proposal it is amazing to witness that despite RMGC’s claims of ‘overwhelming local support’ their money failed miserably in brainwashing the people they thought they had bought and pocketed. For those unfamiliar with our culture: abstention is popular in the post-communist region of the Balkans. It is the one and only efficient tool that allows voters to choose between evil and evil. It is unrelated to weather conditions. The outcome of this referendum means that the people’s will is stronger than private interests,” according to Eugen David, president of Alburnus Maior.
For more information, please contact:
Eugen David (Romanian), President of Alburnus Maior, tel. 0040 0740 280309,
Roxana Pencea (English), tel. 0040 0723 024300
Alburnus Maior’ is a community NGO based at Rosia Montana. It was founded in September 2000 by villagers from Rosia Montana and Bucium to oppose Gabriel Resources’ gold mine proposal which entails the destruction of Rosia Montana and its surroundings. The association’s opposition is based on social, environmental, cultural and economic grounds.
Alburnus Maior is the initiator of the ‘Save Rosia Montana’ campaign, Romania’s most significant environmental initiative. The ‘Save Rosia Montana!’ campaign enjoys the active support of Romanian environmental NGOs and institutions. Over the years this campaign has organised multiple actions, events and and alerts to draw attention to the inherent risks associated with the develoment of the mine proposal.