The mining referendum carried out on December 9 in 35 localities within the Apuseni region was invalidated, due to insufficient turnout as only 43.2 percent of the people casted their ballots, although more than half of those votes were supportive for the reopening of mines in the region, particularly for the Rosia Montana project.
Romanians voted whether they wanted mining activity to restart in the Apuseni Mountains. This would include the gold and silver mining project at Rosia Montana.
Out of the 31,319 people that participated in the referendum, close to 63 percent voted for the reopening of mining activities, while 36 percent opposed it.
“At the referendum yesterday we obtained a smashing victory, in favor of the mining re-launch in the area and we thank all those who voted! Our message is this: whoever is in charge with forming a new cabinet must take into consideration people’s will and must urgently do something, must take urgent measures as soon as possible to restart the mining in the Apuseni area,” said Cristian Albu, president of the Future of Mining Union in Rosia Montana.
The Ponta Government delayed any decision on large investments projects such as the exploitation of shale gas or restart of open pit mining for copper, silver and gold. PM Ponta said a decision would be made after the December elections.
The center-left coalitions USL obtained a sliding victory in the Parliamentary elections this week and will form a new government, which is expected to have its say on these potential investments.
The union said that people queued to vote for mining despite a heavy snowstorm that battered the region.
“It is easy to stay in Bucharest, in a luxurious office, pointing at how bad things are in Rosia Montana, but these people need to face reality every day: a very tough winter, with isolated houses, scattered around the hills, with insufficient infrastructure and transportation,” said the union in a press statement.
The restart of mining in Apuseni would create thousands of jobs, allowing families to stay together, as the youth left their local communities in search of jobs, according to the union.
RMGC, the developer of the Rosia Montana project, didn’t comment on the referendum outcome.
Update: Gabriel Resources issued an official statement on the referendum result.
“This Referendum truly demonstrates the strong will of the people to re-start mining in the Apuseni Mountains and specifically the public’s unequivocal support for the Rosia Montana Project. This vote is thus a call to action for the Romanian Government to create much-needed economic activity, which can be accomplished through the resumption of sustainable and environmentally-responsible mining envisaged by the Project. Gabriel remains ready to respond to the will of the people and engage with the newly elected government to accelerate permitting progress on the Project, which will create many thousands of jobs and deliver significant economic and environmental benefits for the people of the Apuseni Mountains and across Romania,” said Jonathan Henry, president and CEO of Gabriel Resources