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The anonymous  <>

Author: J. Beth Ciesielski

  Cetate mountain was dynamited to allow open-cut mining

Cetate mountain was dynamited to allow open-cut mining

The 8th April issue of the Economist included an article entitled, No
gold please, we're Romanian. The title alone indicated that this was
not going to be a nuanced, objective article. The anonymous author/s
did not disappoint.
After referring to, "a mixed bunch, (of protestors) including anti-
globalisation and Green Idealists, as well as some dodgier characters
who regard opposition to the project as a way of demonstrating their
public-spiritedness", the article concludes, "Romanian do-gooders may
relish bashing multinationals, but the people directly affected see
it otherwise."

Reputation is a fragile treasure, usually considered more valuable
than gold, but the Economist seems to have tarnished its reputation
with this article that seems to have been simply copied from an
article sent out by the helpful PR office of Gabriel Resources, the
parent company of Rosia Montana, its Romanian subsidiary. Did the
Economist deliberately ignore the history of the proven dodgier
character that started Gabriel Resources, Frank Timis, a convicted
drug dealer and shady oil developer in Greece? It should check the
June 2005 article in the Romanian Jurnal National for more details.
Another Romanian newspaper, Academia Catevencu, published an
article in March 2005, Gold, Petrol, Tender, Talpes and Timis,
explaining the fascinating connections between rather questionable
businessmen and government officials.

The Economist somehow ignored the very visible presence of the
Romanian NGO, Alburnus Maior (see created by
local people. Yes, some international volunteers have joined this
small organisation in its fight not only against the greed of those
who mine gold but those in the government who want to develop their
own pocket gold mines. Stephanie Roth, one of those environment "do-
gooders", (Is that somehow a bad word to the Economist?) recently won
the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize for the environment from the
Goldman Foundation; she donated the money to the NGO to finance its
fight against the demolition of four mountains. She is suing the
Ministry of Culture for records relating to its acceptance of a
$50,000 donation from Rosia Montana that seemed suspiciously related
to a subsequent decision in favour of the mining company.

The EU Parliament has come out against this gold mine, as well as the
World Bank (which refuses to offer any investments), the Romanian
Scientific Association, numerous newspapers, and other NGOs like
Greenpeace and Transparency International. If the Economist still
prefers to lump these organisations together as dodgy people, all the
churches in this region have also come out against this mining
disaster waiting to happen and refuses to sell any of their property
to the Rosia Montana Gold Mining Company. (We can actually thank the
gold company for this rarely seen religious unity.)

Perhaps the Economist is also unaware of the Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiatives which was created in 2002 by the World Bank
and the Soros Foundation as well as countries and mining companies
(see ). Its purpose is to provide transparency
to the extractive industries to protect both companies from unethical
governments and countries from unethical companies, all to the
detriment of those who live there. Unfortunately, neither Romania nor
Gabriel Resources Mining, nor its subsidiary, Rosia Montana Gold
Company, are members of this important organisation.

The anonymous writer/s of the Economist continue, "Romanians, normally
apathetic about such things, (are) twitchy abut any new mining there".
Twitchy? More like suspicious and knowledgeable about the terrible
cyanide pool spill in Baia Mare, Romania that destroyed a river and
thousands of fish and potable water.

Yes, the local people would like jobs and European salaries and a
better life for their children, but that is not the same as allowing
Gabriel Resources to take the gold without proven benefits for the
people. Yes, as the article mentions, the local people reelected the
mayor who supports the mine. People naturally look to their immediate
needs. Leaders are expected however, to look to the long-term impact
and benefits. Considering the poverty of the area, it is amazing that
anyone would not sell out to Gabriel Resources, but there is a great
resistance by homeowners. There are also many reasons the locals
could have chosen that man as mayor over another candidate.
(Incidentally he was recently removed from office for a potential
conflict of interest as he was also head of a private company, which
is in direct violation of Romanian law - he claims he just
transferred this company to his wife and that his removal is

Perhaps the Economist has not heard of the "no more dirty gold"
( or the 6th April, 2006 article about ethical gold
in the New York Times or after months of investigation, its four part
series last year, The Cost of Gold? Perhaps the Economist cannot
imagine that when gold is the highest in 25 years at $604 an ounce,
that perhaps some of the PR money might be spent on those who are
most accommodating to the mine owners.
Can the Economist name any place on the planet where gold or coal
mining has left the area in a better economic or ecologic condition
than before the mining? With no polluted water tables, no
contaminated land unsuitable for future farming?

  Rosia Montana's Carnic mountain faces the same fate as Cetate, which
was dynamited following a government decision in 1972 to allow open-
cut mining

Rosia Montana's Carnic mountain faces the same fate as Cetate, which
was dynamited following a government decision in 1972 to allow open-
cut mining

Economists not employed by gold mine companies, those who work for
the World Bank, universities and international non-governmental
organisations have written about the direct correlation between the
mineral wealth of a country and its low level of income, depending on
whether the country merely exports the raw product or processes it.
Countries which have a highly developed service industry and no
mineral wealth are actually wealthier than countries which only have
mineral riches. The apparent contraction relates to whether the raw
materials are merely extracted or extrapolated into a finished
product. Rosia Montana only wants to export gold from Romania.

Just after the most disappointing Economist article, Romania received
a reprieve (only) from the Ministry of Environment which suspended the
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure for the Rosia Montana
cyanide-leach fold mining project in the presence of the EU
Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas. Said Eugen David, President
of the NGO Alburnus Maior, "I think this tells us something about the
incompatibility of the Rosia Montana mining project with European
environmental law."

It is interesting to note that the Economist is half owned by the
Financial Times which published an article on 8th April, 2004, titled
Gold is not enough" written by Harry Eyres. This named writer
explored the impact of gold from the three aspects of politics,
economic and environment and he concluded that:

"Perhaps the challenge for the Romanian government, which will
ultimately decide whether the project goes ahead, is to imagine a
sustainable future (eco-tourism, for instance) which does not rest on
obliteration of the past and despoliation of the landscape. I think
(the) Roman poet, Horace, should have the last word: "[it is]
stronger to spurn undiscovered gold (better left where the earth
hides it) than to force it into human use with a hand that plunders
every sacred thing."

Which brings us to an important question. If the parent company, a
business oriented newspaper, the Financial Times, prints articles
with bylines, why doesn't the Economist? This is the rationale of the

"Why is it anonymous? Many hands write the Economist, but it speaks
with a collective voice. Leaders are discussed, often disputed, each
week in meetings that are open to all members of the editorial staff.
Journalists often co-operate on articles. And some articles are
heavily edited. The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief
that what is written is more important than who writes it. As
Geoffrey Crowther, editor from 1938 to 1956, put it, anonymity keeps
the editor "not the master but the servant of something far greater
than himself. You can call that ancestor-worship if you wish, but it
gives to the paper an astonishing momentum of thought and principle."

This sounds reasonable and many other Economist articles do show
nuance and research, but the reality of the April article about the
largest gold mine in Europe shows that it is time for a review of its
outdated policy. Perhaps the Economist staff needs a review of what
is balanced reporting. Certainly it is time for the Economist to stop
its peculiar policy of anonymous reporting (no name, no blame?) which
prevents the reader from knowing the possible position and
disposition of the author/s. Transparency and disclosure of any
connections to those reviewed should be the most important policy if
the Economist is to maintain any credibility and professional
reputation. We all would like to read a follow up article signed by a
serious and named reporter from the Economist.

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