Greenpeace Activists Arrested After ‘Digging for Gold’ in the Yard of Romania’s People Palace

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from Romania Insider

A group of 50 Greenpeace activists from 10 countries were arrested in Bucharest on Monday (December 9), after entering the yard of Romania’s People Palace where they started digging as part of an anti-gold mining campaign.

The 50 people, which included Canadians, Americans, Austrians, Hungarians, Poles, Germans, Czechs, Croatians and Romanians, started a so called ‘ gold mining area’ in the yard of the second largest building in the world, which hosts the Romanian Parliament. Among those arrested was also a journalist.

“In the last couple of months, the Government issues special laws allowing any private company, not just Roșia Montană Gold Corporation, to exploit any kind of resource, wherever it is. It just needs the label ‘national interest project’ and ‘public interest project’ and it is enough,” said Alexandru Riza, who coordinates Greenpeace Romania’s campaigns.

“The destruction of communities, environment, national patrimony, historic of cultural. This is as abnormal as digging for gold in the yard of an institution,” he added, referring to the unusual protest. “Today’s protest shows exactly what can a company interested is exploring and exploiting the country’s underground resources do.”

Canadian activist Mia Jessica Steinbach said she came from her home country to start digging for gold in the yard of the Parliament Palace. “I understand the Romanian Government issues laws allowing to search for and exploit resources by anyone, especially by Canadians,” she said.

Greepeace’s demonstration is the latest in a series of anti-mining protests sparked by plans by Canadian – owned Roșia Montană Gold Corporation to open a gold mine in the Transylvanian village of Rosia Montana, using cyanide in the gold extraction process.

An entire village, four mountains, churches and graveyards, as well as the historic center and the ruins of the Alburnus Maior citadel and Roman vestiges would all be destroyed by the cyanide pond in 15 to 17 years, according to Greenpeace. Cyanide mining was banned in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany, the organization said.

Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources has been trying to get approval for 14 years to extract 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver from Rosia Montana over a period of 16 years using cyanide.

The operation would be run through its local arm, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC), which is 81 percent owned by Gabriel and 19 percent by the Romanian State, whose stake would increase to about 25 percent if the project became functional.

The Romanian Government approved the project earlier this year, but the Parliament is yet to decide on the matter. Meanwhile, thousands have taken the streets of Bucharest protesting against the gold mining project

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