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Rosia Montana - An Informed Reply


It's always a pleasure to see a new email message from somebody who's been reading this blog. In this case, the message came in from a reader who first contacted me last year. He moved to Canada quite a while ago and settled in the Northwest Territories. He wanted to respond to the previous post on Rosia Montana, but given the length of the reply, I've asked him to allow me to publish it as its own post. He asked me not to share his name, but outside of that, I'm copying it verbatim.

(Edit: In Romana mai jos)


Hello Matt,

Here we go again: Rosia Montana. I got involved in this project about four years ago. I had had phone interviews with radio stations in Bucharest; I published several articles in two or three magazines in Bucharest. I hosted, guided and loaded up with data and portable computer equipment one “Romanian explorer” as the Romanian media called her: Uca Marinescu. Perhaps the name rings a bell. Anyhow she never got back to me; there was no feedback, no follow-up whatsoever. I provided her with explicit evidence, material, studies, maps, samples, statistics and proofs in respect to what cyanide exploration means. It’s a pity she never used the data.


Because I’ve been living in Yellowknife for the last 15 years, because I’ve been involved with the mining and oil and gas industry for the last 10 years and because Northwest Territories extracts 95% of its GDP from the aforementioned industries allow me to clearly, simply and briefly explain the meaning of cyanide technologies applied on industrial scale: it’s shit! Period!


The cyanide tail ponds from Giant Mine and Con Mine are at the edge of the city of Yellowknife and dangerously close to the Great Slave Lake. The lake is the main source of drinking water for 20,000 people. In order to keep the arsenic deposits stable we use cryogenic plants all over the place. I have a bunch of pictures if you’re interested. The one billion dollar figure mentioned in one of the comments on your blog is incorrect: we spend that amount of money on yearly basis Matt! Well, correction please: not us, but rather the federal government. That’s how much it cost to keep the solid and liquid waste “safe”. And again that’s an overoptimistic level of safety. It’s being constantly degrading because the permafrost is melting. Oh yeah, it’s that global warming fairy tale no sane people would listen to. That fairy tale sinks our highways; crumble our building, twists and rupture water, sewage and power lines all over the place. It drains our city budget; it wrecks our vehicles and floods our basements. Welcome to the global warming, the arctic style.


I don’t care what shady deals the “Romanian political elite” (I hate using the “elite” word in this particularly context) cut with Gabriel Resources. I don’t care how much money and privileges the elite pockets. I don’t even care if one dollar or an ounce of gold gets to the central bank because that’s not important. Erasing four mountains is no big deal for a serious mining corporation. Look up Diavik Diamond Mine (NWT) on Google Earth and you’ll see a huge crater a mile diameter and several hundred feet deep: it looks like a nuclear explosion site, or, the earth after a meteorite hit. The site is in the middle of nowhere (no human inhabitants on 500 mile radius) so who cares we have a new crater? It will be filled with water once the mine is closed and we’ll have a new lake. There is no pollution whatsoever.


Let’s say the mining company (Gabriel Resources) will do their site reclamation job well and the land is restored (restored to what?). I don’t believe it for a second, however let’s say it will happen, give them some credit. That’s fine with me. What’s not fine with me is the cyanide. That’s going nowhere. It won’t decompose, it won’t disappear. Ever! We tried in Yellowknife special algae, for years, we were told by several very respectable research institutes and labs the algae will eat away the cyanide: they developed the algae in the labs, we paid about 35 million dollars and the cyanide didn’t give a shit. Well, let’s say we can live with the cyanide tail ponds: stay away from them and you’ll be fine. Is that so? The cyanide slowly and surely is seeping through the permafrost, through the bedrock and it has the bad habit of contaminating the water table. In return the water table has the bad habit to flow straight into the Great Slave Lake. It’s called gravitational flow and there is not much we can do about it. Did you get the picture? That’s where we get our water supply.


Yes, it costs us a billion dollar/year to keep the arsenic under control. But we fucked up the cyanide story. For the next 30-40 years we’ll be okay. It takes about 50 years for the cyanide to reach the lake: about 10 years have passed. What’s going to happen to the next generation?


Also keep in mind that Rosia Montana’s geology is very fragile according to various geophysical studies I consulted in the past. The rocks are very permeable and the deposit layers are not stable. The cracking and seeping process will be much faster in comparison to Yellowknife because we have granite bedrock here and the cyanide only goes through cracks within the layers. In Rosia Montana the end will be swift and merciless.


Are there alternatives to the cyanide mining? Yes, there are. One method is called hydrolytic catalysis and it uses a shit load of electric power. One needs a serious power plant to connect the mine to the grid. It is also less efficient than the cyanide slush. It only captures about 80% of the gold as the cyanide captures about 99% of the gold. It doesn’t pollute, but it generates lesser profits and it dramatically increases the operational cost. That’s why the mining industry doesn’t want to use it: unless they have no choice. And that’s precisely where the Romanians could make a difference.

----------

The only comment I'd like to add is that when I was asked not to share his identity, the writer qualified it by saying "I’ve been misquoted in the past, my statements were twisted, used out of context and used for purposes they were never intended. Sorry, I have neither respect nor faith in the Romanian media, politicians or their institutions."

It's all the more upsetting when you take into consideration the fact that our policy makers have access to resources and to people who can help them make an informed decision, but they choose to ignore them. They are not Romanians who will ever make a difference. If you want to see change-making Romanians, tune in to the city streets on Sunday, September 15th. 


The Future?

Traducere in Romana:


Sa-o luam de la capat: Rosia Montana. M-am implicat în acest proiect în urmă cu aproximativ patru ani. Am avut interviuri telefonice cu posturi de radio din București , am publicat mai multe articole în două sau trei reviste din București . Am găzduit , ghidat și încărcat cu date și echipamente de laptop o "exploratore ", cum mass-media românească a numit-o : Uca Marinescu . Poate că numele ti-e familiar. Oricum nu a revenit la discutie, nu a existat nice feedback , nice follow-up . I-am oferit cu dovezi concrete, materiale, studii, harti, mostre, statistici și dovezi cu privire la ceea ce înseamnă explorarea cu cianura. E păcat că nu a folosit niciodată datele.
Pentru că am trăit în Yellowknife ultimii 15 ani , pentru că am fost implicat în minerit și industria de petrol și gaze în ultimii 10 ani și pentru că Northwest Territories extrage 95 % din PIB-ul său din industriile menționate anterior permite-mi să explic, în mod clar, simplu și scurt tehnologiile pe bază de cianuri aplicate pe scală industrială : e rahat ! Punct!
Iazurile de Cianura de la Giant Mine și de la Con Mine sunt la marginea orașului Yellowknife și periculos de aproape de Slave Lake - lacul care este principala sursă de apă potabilă pentru 20.000 de oameni. În scopul de a menține depozitele de arsenic stabile, se folosesc plante criogenice peste tot. Am o grămadă de fotografii, dacă esti interesat . Un miliard de dolari, cifră menționate în una dintre comentariile de pe blog-ul tău este incorectă: cheltuim această sumă de bani în fiecare an Matt! Ei bine, ma rog, nu noi ci mai degrabă guvernul federal. Asta -i cât de mult costă să păstreze deșeurile solide și lichide "in siguranta". Și asa spus, un nivel mult prea optimist de siguranță. Este în mod constant degradată “siguranta” pentru că permafrostul se topește. Oh, da, basmul ala despre incalzirea globala. Ca basm, ne scufundă autostrăzile ; fărâmă clădirile noastre , se rup teviile de canalizare si liniile electrice peste tot. Se scurge bugetul orașului nostru, se distrug autovehiculele noastre și inundă subsoluri noastre. Bine ați venit la încălzirea globală, stilul arctic.
Nu-mi pasă ce afaceri dubioase" elita politică românească " (Nu-mi place sa folosesc cuvantul "elita", în special în acest context ) a facut cu Gabriel Resources . Nu-mi pasă cât de mult bani și privilegii au intrat in buzunarele asa spusei elitei . Nici măcar nu -mi pasă dacă un dolar sau o unchie de aur ajunge la banca centrală pentru că nu e important . Nici stergerea de patru munți nu este mare lucru pentru o corporație de minerit serioasa. Uită-te la Diavik Diamond Mine(NWT) pe Google Earth și o sa vezi un crater imens cu un diametru de o milă și câteva sute de metri adâncime: se pare ca e un sit de explozii nucleare , sau pământul după o lovitura de meteorit . Site-ul este în pusietate (nici un locuitori pe o raza de 500 mile), deci cui îi pasă ca avem un nou crater? Acesta va fi umplut cu apă o data că mina va fi închisă si vom avea un nou lac. Nu există nici un fel de poluare.
Sa zicem ca compania miniera (RMGC/Gabriel Resources) vor face bine treaba si ca terenurile vor fi restabilite (restabilite la ce?)Nu- mi vine să cred pentru o secundă , însă să spun că se va întâmpla. Asta e bine. Ce nu e bine este cianura . Asta nu ajunge nicăieri . Aceasta nu se va descompune , aceasta nu va dispărea. Ever! Am încercat alge speciale în Yellowknife, de ani de zile, ne-au spus mai multe institute de cercetare și laboratoare foarte respectabile unde au fost dezvoltate aceste alge ca algele vor mânca cianura. Am plătit aproximativ 35 de milioane de dolari, si cianura nu s-a miscat.

Ei bine , să spunem că 
putem trăi cu Iazurile de cianură: stai departe de ele și vei fi bine. Chiar așa? Cianura, încet și sigur, se prelinge prin permafrost , prin roca de bază și are prostul obicei de a contamina pânza freatică . În schimb, masa de apă are prostul obicei să curgă direct în Great Slave Lake. Se numește flux gravitațional și nu există ce sa facem despre el. Ai prins ideea ? Asta este de unde vine apă noastra potabila.
Da, ne costă un miliard de dolari/an pentru a menține arsenicul sub control. Dar ne-am tras-o cu cianura. Pentru următorii 30-40 de ani vom fi în regulă. Este nevoie de aproximativ 50 de ani ca cianura sa ajunga la lac: au trecut aproximativ 10 de ani. Ce se va întâmpla la generația următoare?
De asemenea, tine cont de faptul că geologia Rosia Montanei este foarte fragile conform diferitelor studii geofizice care le-am consultat în trecut. Rocile sunt foarte permeabile și straturile de depozit nu sunt stabile. Procesul de fisurare si prelingerea prin straturi va fi mult mai rapida în comparație cu Yellowknife pentru că aici avem roca de granit și cianura trece numai prin fisuri în straturile. În Roșia Montană finalul va fi rapid și fără milă .
Există alternative la mineritul cu cianura? Da, există . O metodă se numește Cataliza Hidrolitice şi utilizează o puzderie de sarcină electrică. Este nevoie de o centrală electrică serioasă pentru a conecta mina la rețea . De asemenea, aceasta este mai puțin eficientă decât noroiul cu cianură. Capteaza doar aproximativ 80 % din aur si cianură aproximativ 99 % din aur . Nu polueaza , dar generează profituri mai mici și crește dramatic costurile operaționale . De aceea, industria minieră nu vrea să-l folosească : dacă nu au de ales. Și asta e exact unde românii ar putea face o diferenta.

Comments

  1. Politicians do not care about the dangers. They want their money and simply vanish, protected by their acolytes. I wonder how much time will we wait until something will be done here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Manu,

      I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I always say it's up to each and everyone who lives here to do something. It can be as simple as posting a link to this story (or similar stories), writing a story yourself, contacting your MP, following up with your MP, and then sharing your experiences in the hope of getting others engaged.

      The bottom line is, we all have the choice to
      a) be better than our 'leaders' in small ways, even if all that means is to be honest and to treat others with respect.
      And,
      b)to engage in important civil society discussions. Even if you feel like a drop in an ocean, even if you're busy and stressed with work and life, it's still up to you. If you do your part it tends to get others to follow suit.

      One thing's for sure, we can't just wait around hoping somebody else is going to do something.

      Delete
  2. Finally something lucid and understandable and less pathetic than all the mediablabla that we saw in the last weeks , thank you Matt and a huge Multumesc to the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Uca Marinescu a prezentat, la intoarcerea in tara, incepand cu anul 2010, imaginile dezastrului ecologic lasat de Gabriel Resources la extractia miniera de langa Yellowknife-TNV la toate emisiunile din massmedia romana la care a participat, ca de altfel si la conferintele tinute in tara la Bucuresti, Iasi, Brasov, Ploiesti, Rosia Montana, Craiova, etc.
    Pentru mai multe informatii cu privire la acest subiect va rog sa ma contactati.
    Va multumesc,

    ReplyDelete
  4. Am recuperat contul de gmail. Va rog sa ma contactati pentru lamuriri suplimentare

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uca, mi-ar face placere sa impart resultatele acestea, pot fi contactat prin email: roexpat@gmail.com

      Delete

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