Video Transcript: GOLD FUTURES: Rosia Montana – a PBS Special


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Gold Futures VideoTranscript

 

EUGEN CORNEA

I was born in Roşia Montană. I’m 53 years old. I am fighting to preserve this village,

which according to documentary evidence is the oldest settlement in Romania.

We grew up together with our kids. We married young: 33 years ago. We were happy

here in Roşia Montană. I spent my childhood and my schooldays here. We got married

when we finished high school. We have 3 daughters.

MARIA CORNEA

My parents’ name is Hungarian: Ravaj. My father and my uncle used to sing songs like

this…

Beautiful is when one has the blue eyes. Mine are dark blue, – well, mine are actually

green – but I am still not beautiful enough to my loved one. I’m loving, but not for

marriage. I just want to steal your heart.

I translate it for you: I don’t want to marry you, I just want to steal your heart. Then you

can marry whoever you like.

EUGEN CORNEA

But I’ve already married you.

I worked as a topographer in the copper mine until the year 2000. I spent 30 years in the

mine. I have a small farm with 3 cows, 2 calves, 14 sheep. My life has been peaceful,

but ever since Gold Corporation arrived, it’s been confused. It’s turned me grey.

We are small, the company is big and powerful. This isn’t a fair struggle. It’s like David

and Goliath. In their struggle, David triumphed over Goliath. We hope to be the David of

the battle in Roşia Montană .

NARRATION

Since its founding almost 2000 years ago, the villagers of Roşia Montană , a small town

in Transylvania, have been mining its mineral wealth.

In 1997, Goliath arrived.

At the time, gold sold for $330 an ounce.

A Canadian based multinational, Gabriel Resources, plans to build the largest gold mine

in Europe.

Their subsidiary – Roşia Montană Gold Corporation – was granted a 20 year

exploration license on the land, but first they would have to buy up hundreds of houses

and displace almost the entire village.

MARIA PETRINCA

What about the orchard and the garden?

Laura, have they been to survey your place?

LAURA CIURA

They’ve surveyed here three times.

MARIA PETRINCA

Three times, already?

LAURA CIURA

Yes.

MARIA PETRINCA

I don’t know what we’ll do. If they start, it’ll be bad for those who stay. But if they don’t…

The cyanide they use is highly toxic.

LAURA CIURA

We can’t plan for the future. The situation keeps changing. There are rumors… I don’t

know what to do. Who knows when they will pay for the house? I don’t know.

KÁLMÁN ZLACKI

I can’t wait to get the money, so I can leave. It’s too cold here, we have to run the heat

seven months a year.

ESTER PITIE

I’ll get more than €25,000 for my house. I’ve just bought a apartment in Spain, so I need

the money.

Everything was ready, then somebody interferes. I don’t want anybody to interfere. They

don’t want to leave? Let them stay here then.

FRANCISC DAVID

This is a miner’s house. My ancestors lived here, and I live here now. It’s six years since

they began terrorizing us into moving.

First they came by helicopter. They wanted to buy everyone and everything, but we

won’t go for their money.

IOAN COBORI

Relocate me, I don’t care. I’m fed up with the bad roads. There’s nothing left here. If

there is no pharmacy, no doctor, no town hall or bakery, why should I stay? And the

trucks’ exhaust fumes? We’re not headed for the Sahara, after all.

There’s not even a market now. We used to have one. I used to go with my mother.

There were so many people here. If I got lost I couldn’t find her again. In those days this

was the richest village.

[MUSIC]

HOREA MARCU

This was a little California.

IOAN COBORI

That’s what it was… People took the gold from their mines to the bank, and there was

still gold to spare.

These Canadians won’t fool around. They’ll bring strong machines, and experts… Roşia

Montană won’t exist in 30-40 years’ time.

[MUSIC]

VASILE SZABO

Lots of different people lived here:

Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, Jews, French, and many others. We’ve always lived

here and we hope to stay here. We should protect this community, so it doesn’t vanish

from Europe, from this country. We have children to raise. We aren’t against the

investment, but they should do it intelligently. We don’t have to poison ourselves. Roşia

Montană isn’t an uninhabited desert. The problem is that people live here.

NARRATION

During the Communist era, Romanian mines employed many people, but after the

revolution in 1989, the state-subsidized industry collapsed leading to widespread

unemployment and poverty in mining villages.

As a result, about 2,800 people were laid off from the copper and gold mines in Roşia

Montană .

Today, the unemployment rate in the region is 70%. But the Gold Corporation says it will

return prosperity to the town.

ADRIAN DASCALU

Our project offers these people a job and a much more certain future. Our mine will

create 540 jobs for the entire duration of the project, 17 years. And one mining job

creates between 3 and 7 related jobs.

JOHN ASTON

What we are planning to do is to redevelop the area with modern mining practice,

modern environmental management. We plan to preserve the historic part of Roşia

Montană . We plan to relocate and provide resettlement options for all people living in

this area that will be impacted by the mine that’s underneath the adjacent valley.

There are approximately 900 households. There is a lot of gold but a lot of gold means a

big mine. And it will be the biggest gold mine in Europe. The mine will last for

approximately 17 years. That’s based on a known reserve of over 300 tons of gold and

1,600 tons of silver. At today’s price that’s worth a lot of money. And that is in fact the

engine behind the whole project.

Mining has got a very bad reputation but this is one of the very few mines which would

actually improve the environment. People find it very, very hard to believe. This is true.

This project will end up putting money into the local area that will help. The taxes will

help people build and improve the local roads. Local people will be building restaurants

and hotels. Already, there are new restaurants in the area.

At the end of the day you will have an environmentally friendly area.

NARRATION

Until 2006, the state operated one of the country’s last gold mines in Roşia Montană .

The extraction techniques for Gold Corporation’s proposed mine will be similar to those

used here, but on a much larger scale. Also, for the first time on this site, cyanide will be

used to process the ore.

Miners will use dynamite to blast the rock into manageable pieces, leveling the mountain

as the excavation progresses.

JOHN ASTON

The stones will be broken down, ground into a very fine sand and then they will go

through a process in a factory which has got cyanide in it. And cyanide actually takes the

gold out of the rock, out of the sand and the waste product goes in Corna Valley. There’s

going to have a very large dam here made of rock.

NARRATION

The dam will be twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, and the resulting holding pond

Roşia Montană’s neighboring valley, Corna.

REMUS CELUSA

It’s as quiet as a monastery here in the middle of the valley. It’s so beautiful here. I’m not

going. I’ve worked here so long I can’t quit now. Money is their problem. What’ll I do with

the money? Money ruins everything.

My name is Remus Celusa. I’m 49. I was born here in Corna. I married a local girl, we

bought this house, here and started this little business that you can see.

This is what we do. Look at that wainscoting… This beautiful furniture. We design

furniture like this. Wainscoting, doors, windows, whatever’s needed. We’d be sorry to

have to leave our village.

On the radio they said that Roşia Montană is the new El Dorado. We have gold, there’s

gold in the mountains.

We’re very afraid. Why can’t they do this a different way? There must be a way of mining

gold without destroying our mountains and everything we own.

I don’t know what to play. I can’t concentrate.

It’s good.

STEPHANIE ROTH

Bravo. I love it when you play like that.

CELUSA REMUS

This is the best instrument.

STEPHANIE ROTH

My name is Stephanie, I am Swiss. I am 32 years old. and I came to Rosia Montana the

first time in April 2002. And I saw this place and it broke my heart and I decided to stay

here and to fight for this place to stay as it is.

RETEZA DRAGOMIR

I won’t move because I’m old. Where would I go? To hell?

STEPHANIE ROTH

I have become a member of Alburnus Maior. Alburnus Maior is the local NGO in

opposition to this gold mining project. It represents the interests of 300 subsistence

farmers well opposed to the project and to forced resettlement.

NARRATION

Gold Corporation began buying out homeowners in 2002.

The company offers either cash or a home in a new community it plans to build nearby.

The Gold Corporation proposes a Protected Zone where some buildings, churches, and

access to ancient and recent mine workings will be preserved because of architectural or

historical merit.

Villagers can elect to stay, but if only a few remain, they will be surrounded by the new

mine.

Gold Corporation created a community information center where local people can see

the project plans and what sort of alternative housing the company is offering.

As of May 2007, almost two thirds of the village houses had been purchased or

optioned.

ADRIAN DASCALU

We are closely monitoring the situation of those who left Rosia Montana. So far we’ve

only had positive feedback. They’ve managed to buy comfortable apartments from the

compensation packages offered by our company.

WOMAN

We’ve got nothing to complain about.

MAN

We got a good deal.

WOMAN

We’d never have gotten 40 million for our house.

MAN

It’s a miracle. I bought an apartment for my daughter, a car for my son and a small

house for ourselves.

WOMAN

As soon as I entered their office, I realized these people don’t wish to harm me. I’d never

return to Roşia Montană . I’ll invite all the employees of Gold Corporation to my

daughter’s wedding. They’re such lovely people.

IOAN DRAGAN

I’ll cut their heads off. Absolutely. I mean it, with my scythe. I don’t care. I’ve had to get it

out a few times already.

ELENA DRAGAN

He asked the police to stop them from entering our property. Today you were at the

police, but regardless tomorrow someone else will enter again.

EUGEN CORNEA

It’s psychological pressure to wear the people down.

IOAN DRAGAN

They demolish houses…to intimidate you.

The devil take them and their gold. Leave the gold here, in Europe. We need it, we’re

poor. Europeans are poor, too. Not like the Americans, they’re up to here with money.

ELENA DRAGAN

We’ve raised our kids, and now these Canadian thieves want to evict us. Listen to what

they say. “Don’t go now when you could get money, you’ll leave anyway. Even without

the money.”

EUGEN CORNEA

This is pressure.

EUGEN DAVID

When I moved here, it seemed our life would be happy because this place is so

beautiful. I learned a few things during those 14 years in the mine, at Roşia Poieni open

cast mine.

MIA DAVID

Diana, have you washed your hands? I’ll get a towel.

EUGEN DAVID

My name is Eugen David, I’m chairman of the Alburnus Maior Association. I was among

the first to oppose the project. We set up the association when we realized the danger.

We wanted to protect our interests and make our voices heard at the local and national

government level and other official forums.

To devote myself to the struggle I left my job.

Now I’m a farmer. I’d like to demonstrate that here, in these beautiful mountains, there

are other ways to make a living besides mining. I want to live off this farm.

MEN

Who’s the birthday boy? Hurray for Wili. Happy birthday.

WILHELM GRUBER

We’ve lived off the gold for 2000 years. Working these accursed seams. There must be

a few million tons of gold,

if, even after 2000 years the French, English and Canadians are still coming. This

means there is gold.

Gold prospectors are coming. They only care about gold, not about the people or

anything else. We look for gold because we need it.

Gold is the only source of income here. You can’t live off rosehips, elderberries and

sunflower seeds. That’s not possible. There’s no tourism. Who the hell would come

here? But seriously.

We expect the project to bring investment and money. Let’s see that something happens

here. I’m looking forward to Gold Corporation’s project.

NARRATION

Many villagers support the mining project because they see little possibility of finding

work elsewhere. They formed Pro Roşia Montană , a group that claims 85% of the

villagers are in favor of Gold Corporation’s project. Their leader is local dentist Andrei

Jurca.

ANDREI JURCA

Rodica, Have you got any bananas?

RODICA

No.

ANDREI JURCA

No, she has no bananas.

I believe I have a lot of credibility with the local people, because I helped them not only

with medical problems, but I’ve helped them solve their economic and social problems

like raising their children.

Through this NGO we wish to create a connection between the people and the

management of the company. We have made huge sacrifices to make this project

happen: so we could guarantee work for the local people, their daily bread, and a normal

standard of living.

NARRATION

This is how Roşia Montană will look when it brings the work and the wages. This Roşia

Poieni open pit copper mine once employed many locals. The proposed new gold mine

will be even larger than this crater.

EUGEN CORNEA

It has a circumference of over a mile, and a depth of 1000 feet. These steps are each 49

feet high, and 82 feet wide.

In order to mine 300 tons of ore, containing .05 ounces of gold and .25 to .46 ounces of

silver per ton, four mountains must be destroyed in Rosia Montana.

While the Roşia Poieni mine was created on a hilltop, the planned mine in Rosia

Montana will be placed exactly on top of the village. The gold will have to be mined from

under our houses.

There are two churches down there. The Orthodox and the Greek Catholic.

We’re here above Corna. This beautiful wooded valley will be flooded with the effluent of

the cyanide treatment resulting from the Rosia Montana mine.

This will pollute this entire area of the Apuseni Mountains. It will endanger all rivers, the

Abrud, and the Aries that flows into the Mures, then into the Tisza, the Danube, and on

to the Black Sea.

What they want to do is extremely dangerous, because if the same thing happens in

Roşia Montană that caused the accident in Baia Mare in 2000, the disaster will be 40

times greater. Forty times greater than the one on the Tisza river.

EMIL BOGAR

My name is Emil Bogar. I’m from a family of fishermen. I started fishing when I was 10

and continued for 70 years, except for my three years of military service.

I go every 2 or 3 days, to have a look, but unfortunately…

NARRATION

This is what Roşia Montană fears. In January 2000 the biggest environmental disaster in

Europe since Chernobyl occurred in the Romanian city of Baia Mare.

Heavy rains and snowfall flooded a holding pond of mining waste, washing away the

containing dam and spilling more than 20 million gallons of cyanide-laced sludge into the

River Tisza.

Over 300 tons of dead and dying fish were hauled out to try and hasten the removal of

cyanide from the ecosystem.

It was the region’s largest economic and environmental disaster in living memory.

FISHERMAN

The end of everything, of life as we know it. When will the balance be restored? Planteating fish, carnivorous fish, birds… A whole ecosystem, completely destabilized.

Destabilized? They wiped it out.

FISHERMAN

I’m 40 now. In 20 years I’ll be 60. It’ll be 20 years before I can catch fish like I did this

summer.

NARRATION

The day after the spill, a high-level EU delegation arrived at Baia Mare to meet with the

local community and hear their angry complaints about the Australian company that

owned the mine.

FARMER

They promised to do surveys, but they did nothing. Where should we take the animals in

winter?

FARMER

Nobody asks us anything, but we’re here all the time, in this toxic environment.

OLD WOMAN

The Australian lied. He said it wouldn’t harm the people. Look what he did. The cows are

dead and the soil is spoiled. Take him away from here, make him go to his own country.

Look at this sludge. All that water… He has no brain.

ADRIAN DASCALU

It’s very clear that the first impulse of many people is to draw an analogy between the

unfortunate event of Baia Mare and the technology that we’re planning to use at Rosia

Montana.

I would like to say it very clearly: There is no similarity between the technology used in

Baia Mare and the technology we will use.

The cyanide content of the settling containers will be far below the limits allowed by the

EU legislation. Since the technology we use is safe, and the environment will not be

damaged. And it will certainly be possible for other industries such as tourism to

develop.

NARRATION

For centuries, churches have been a powerful presence in this remote Transylvanian

village. Local religious leaders had not decided how to react to the project. They met

with their congregations to discuss concerns.

GHEORGHE IVASCAN

We, the Christians, do not agree to having our church removed. Not for anything.

EUGEN DAVID

No one can tell me whether to sell my house or not. If our Orthodox priest wants to sell

the church, then he can sell it. But there’s no point in it, because the congregation won’t

follow him. Or they won’t let him sell it.

OLD WOMAN

We pray in the church. We pray to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. We won’t sell it. We won’t

sell it. We’d rather die here

ADRIAN DASCALU

We won’t demolish a single church, but obviously, when the people leave the area, the

churches will be left empty. And we’ll build new churches in the new settlements, such

as “Piatra Alba.” I repeat, there will be no demolition.

REMUS CELUSA

I can’t bear to leave our church, to just abandon it here. I don’t mind what the others

decide, but I’ll defend our church as long as God lets me live on this Earth. I was born

here, I got married here. The Lord and Virgin Mary are always with us.

This is my contribution to this church. I made these wainscotings, I also made this

arch… all beautiful… the furniture, the doors, the entrance and all the wainscoting, all

made by me, just like the holy church in Corna.

See how pretty they are. And one day, will we wake up and the church will be on the

bottom of the cyanide lake?

EUGEN CORNEA

There have been many tragedies in Roşia Montană . I know of cases where people sold

their parents’ houses without telling them. They woke up to find a note saying: “We’ve

taken the money for the house, now you have to move out.”

Ever since the investor came, there’s only hostility in the community. Brothers and

friends have become enemies.

This project only has victims. And we, the locals, we say: “Gold has become a curse

upon us.” I don’t even wear my wedding ring, because I’ve come to hate gold.

Gold is what drives these looters, because I won’t call them investors, when they chase

us from our homes and make us into outcasts.

NARRATION

Like most rural communities, Roşia Montană is losing its young working people to the

cities. Mining – and working for Gold Corporation – is one of very few job prospects on

the horizon here.

FLORIN ONISIE

The young adults work at Gold Corporation. There’s no other source of income.

ANDREI GRUBER

If another investor came and there was a new development plan, that would be great,

because even the young would turn against them.

COSMIN MORARIU

For the time being, the mine is their only chance to survive. If they oppose the project

they are threatened with the sack. They have no other option. With this development

plan there’s nothing to do apart from mining.

You can’t get planning permission for a shop or hotel. Or to make an exhibit out of the

historic Roman mine shafts.

NARRATION

Romania takes its name from the Romans – and tunneling deep into these mountains,

Romans were the first to plunder Roşia Montană for gold.

These shafts were not only an engineering feat, but they also preserved wax tablets that

contain the only known primary records of Roman law.

Many of these galleries will be destroyed if the Gold Corporation’s mine project is

approved.

Archaeologists consider the site unique, so they have recommended to UNESCO that it

be added to the World Heritage List.

EUGEN CORNEA

This mountain, which is full of holes, contains over 4 miles of Roman mine shafts and

tunnels, which are threatened with destruction.

MAN

This is the top part of Corna Valley. This will be where they put all the waste.

NARRATION 

In 2003, members of the European Parliament arrived to review the proposed gold mine.

At the time, Romania was applying to become a member state and while the EU had no

formal role in evaluating the project, its environmental rules would apply once Romania

joined the Union – as it did in January 2007.

JONAS SJÖSTEDT

Well, it is hard to make a final judgment because if you listen to the company it all

sounds very good of course, but if you listen to the local opinion and the NGOs there are

plenty of problems.

They will use enormous amounts of cyanide for example and they will make enormous

amounts of money, probably, if they start the project. There are other gold mines around

in the EU. For example in my home country in Sweden, in Finland they are opening new

mines, and they also use cyanide, but they used in very low concentration compared to

the Baia Mare accident. And the question here is that what kind of technique they will

use. Will they use the most modern and environmental friendly technique which the

company says that they will do.

What can they promise in terms of financing and restructuring the landscape once they

leave this site? Because when they leave it, it should not look like this, it should look like

it did before or very close to that.

EUGEN DAVID

We have turned to the EU, because we are desperate. We’ve been waiting for you like

the Messiah.

JONAS SJÖSTEDT

As we all know one of the most controversial land mining project in Europe is right here.

We came here because we wanted to know more about this very controversial project.

IOAN PISO

The Roman tunnels known as Alburnus Maior, are unique in the whole world.

We, the archaeologists, aren’t against progress. The question is what the country could

gain or lose as a result of such a deal.

IOAN MERA

In July, 2003 the Catholic, Protestant, and Unitarian bishops of Transylvania issued the

following resolution: “We declare the plan to be unacceptable, as it would have

disastrous consequences.

There are 5 churches and 9 cemeteries here. What would those who passed away have

said if they’d known that people would come with bulldozers to dig up their remains?

At funerals I say: “Seal this grave until the second coming of our Lord Jesus.” Then I use

a hoe to make a cross on the coffin with soil. If the Gold Corporation. thinks it’s superior

to Christ, then I have nothing more to say.

GABRIELLA SZÉKELY

Here’s the groom. I’m his aunt. Even in this dying village, there are still weddings.

NARRATION

Change and continuity compete here. Young people still marry, though this couple does

not depend on mining for employment.

The groom’s aunt, Gabriella Szekely, was a teacher in Roşia Montană for 34 years, but

now has broken her ties with the village, and taken Gold Corporation’s money to leave.

GABRIELLA SZÉKELY

I left Roşia Montană a year ago. I’ve found a good place to live, I’m very satisfied. You

won’t hear any complaints about Gold Corporation from me. They paid me what was due

to me.

This is the entrance to the Unitarian church. It was built in the honor of God in 1796. And

here, next to the church, is the grave of my dear husband. I hope that with the help of

the Gold Corporation. I can move him to Cluj. Gold Corporation will pay for the

exhumation, transportation, and the new grave. And everything.

My husband’s been here for 12 years. This used to be my house. It’s so big I often got

lost in it.

I can look at this house with serenity. It secured a peaceful retirement for me. Thanks to

the Gold Corporation.

NARRATION

Margit Buran, a retired accountant is resolute. She won’t deal with the Canadian

company.

MARGIT BURAN

A lot of people have left, because of the money. I’m poor, I only have a small pension,

but I don’t want their millions. I don’t need a house either because I have a place to live.

I bought the apartment from the little savings I had. We belong here, that’s why I don’t

want to move. All my relatives are here. They died of silicosis, because they worked

underground, like my father.

I married my husband, Sandu, and we had one son. He was born in 1959 and died in

1977 at age 18. He had a heart attack while playing soccer.

My only comfort is to come here, in winter, summer, rain or snow. Every day. If I can’t

come in the morning, I come later. I come and pray, and talk to them.

I tell them what I did the day before, and my plans for the day. This is my only

consolation. I told the Gold Corp. people, but they don’t believe me that it’s not the

house, it’s the grave that matters… I told them if they didn’t believe me may God put

them in my situation, and let them bury their only child.

When I say this, they say nothing.

NARRATION

Buran expressed these concerns to the Gold Corporation. They assured her that the

grave is in the Protected Zone, and will not be moved.

MARGIT BURAN

I just want to be buried here, next to my only child and my husband, and all my loved

ones.

EUGEN CORNEA

We are in Corna. Gold Corporation has started demolishing the houses, before approval

of the environmental impact study, and this proves that the company is sure of getting all

the permits. This is why they’ve started preparing the ground.

NARRATION

As part of its application process Gold Corporation submitted an Environmental Impact

Assessment in 2006 to the Romanian Ministry of the Environment. This must be

approved before mining can start.

JOHN ASTON

The strongest part of the impact assessment study is the fact that it’s been done by over

1000 experts from Romania and from the European Union. This is the first project in

Europe, in fact, the first project to really approach mining from the perspective of mining

for the community, mining for life after mining. Only 10% of our project is about mining.

The rest is very much about sustainable development, protecting the historical beauty in

Roşia Montană .

It’s about making the area accessible to business, accessible to tourists and really a

place where the community can live and not where the community will end up dying.

NARRATION

A committee overseen by the Minister of the Environment is meeting in Romania’s

capital, Bucharest, to consider the project. Their recommendation will be presented to

the prime minister for final approval.

ATTILA KORODI

This investment is defined as a private investment in Romania. So we can’t say it’s in the

national interest. This means people who live or have property there cannot be removed

by force. Even if only one person continued to live there, the current environmental

impact study would need to be modified because it does not include the human

presence factor. In principal the locals can stop this project.

NARRATION

After ten years of planning and maneuvering, the fate of Roşia Montană still hangs in the

balance.

In 2007, gold sells for almost $700 an ounce on the world market. As the price has

doubled in a decade, Roşia Montană Gold Corporation and its investors can afford to

be patient.

But some residents have only hardened their resolve to stay.

EUGEN DAVID

As far as I’m concerned they can harass me for a hundred years, I won’t go anywhere.

So they won’t get any approval.

EUGEN CORNEA

Here comes Mici.

MARIA CORNEA

Good afternoon. I’m first giving water to Eugen because he didn’t even drink from the

warm water.

EUGEN DAVID

Yes, give it to your husband. My wife is coming soon.

MARIA CORNEA

I’m not going to give you any more until Maria comes.

EUGEN CORNEA

I want to drink water from her hand. Thanks, my dear.

MARIA CORNEA

Drink as much as you like, my dear. I pulled it from the well with my own hands.

EUGEN DAVID

If you keep on singing, you might get hurt.

EUGEN CORNEA

Usually you sing when you party.

MARIA CORNEA

You can sing without drinking.

EUGEN DAVID

We can sing more when the Gold Corporation leaves. We’ll dance the hora.

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