President Basescu urges government to decide on controversial mining and shale gas projects

Newsroom 11/04/2012 | 16:18

Romanian president Traian Basescu said yesterday during the appointment ceremony of Attila Korodi, the environment minister, that Romanian authorities should make a decision on mining works in Rosia Montana and Rosia Poieni and shale gas exploitation in South Eastern Romania in order to create jobs and ease the pressure on the pension deficit.

The president said that gold, copper and shale gas can be exploited only in partnership with foreign companies that have the technologies to tap into these resources.

“It is clear that Romania doesn’t have the billions of Euros necessary to import technologies necessary to exploit these resources,” said the president.

President Basescu asked the environment minister Attila Korodi to focus on the main investment projects: the extraction of shale gas by Chevron, the gold exploitation in Rosia Montana by Canadian Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) and the copper extraction in Rosia Poieni, recently acquired by Canadian Roman Copper Corp.

US oil & gas firm Chevron got a concession permit for petrol exploration, development and exploitation works in Barlad, in 2004 and this March, the US company received three similar permits in southern Romania, in Vama Veche, Costinesti and Adamclisi.

President Basescu said shale gas could make Romania less dependant on gas imports from Russia, adding that Poland will soon reduce its dependency on gas imports due to this unconventional source. Recently, neighboring Bulgaria blocked the exploitation of shale gas due to fears of environmental damage.

Romania has a yearly pension deficit of EUR 3.6 billion and the unemployment rate of 7.1 percent at end-February will not solve this issue. “Each year we are losing the profit of a full exploitation cycle in Rosia Montana,” said the president.

RMGC is a company set up in 1997 to start mining for gold in Rosia Montana. State-owned mining company Minvest Deva has a 19.3 percent stake in RMGC, while Canadian Gabriel Resources is majority owner with an 80.7 percent stake.

President Basescu said Romania undertook responsibility in 1997 to jointly exploit the gold deposit with the foreign partner and 15 years later the situation has broadly remained unchanged. However, in this period Gabriel Resources has invested over USD 450 million in Romania.

“If not (for starting exploitation works), at least say no tomorrow, and close the subject, and we will see what happens in court,” warned Traian Basescu.

The government was advised by the president to change royalties for all natural resources in the next two weeks.

Ovidiu Posirca

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