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Lush Spring Prize Young Projects Award Winner: Mining Watch Romania

With nearly 70 gold deposits identified within its borders, Romania’s fairy-tale like forests and picturesque mountainscapes, not to mention the creatures and culture-rich communities that dwell within them, are thought to be at risk.

Mining Watch Romania, which is effectively an environmentally-conscious big brother, protecting its nation’s communities against destructive industrial scale mining projects, has been given a £25,000 cash injection to carry on the fight, as part of winning one of three Lush Spring Prize Young Projects Awards.

“Mining Watch monitors the permits issued by authorities to mining companies and signals irregularities to decision makers in Romania and when relevant, at EU level,” explain the preservationist network, which supports NGOs and local initiative groups. “The most rewarding part is being able to keep our mountains in place, to be able to see entire communities and landscapes safe from destructive mining.”

Most recently in a tale similar to David and Goliath, the plucky protesters have come up against Canadian Mining giant Eldorado Gold, who plan to carve into the two million year old Apuseni Mountains of Transylvania in the west of the country, to mine what protesters claim is, ‘just a handful of gold.’ Specifically the picturesque region of Certej, blanketed in miles of lush green forest, home to wildlife great and small, and fringed by hamlets steeped in generations of history, is Eldorado Gold’s target.

As it stands the company needs permits to advance their bid to open what would be the country’s first open-pit gold mine. It’s speculated that if ever realised, the project would gravely infringe on the local population’s fundamental rights to a clean environment and water resources and would end the naturally occurring regeneration of this historic mining region.

“Eldorado Gold proposes a large scale open cast mine that involves the use of cyanide and the deforestation of over 180 hectares of land,” the group says. “We have been monitoring the licensing procedures for over seven years, organised numerous meetings with community members, local and central authorities and initiated court action. In the summer of 2016, the company’s illegal activity for the preparation of the work site was suspended by court order.”

According to the group, the prize fund will help Certej fight the bid for as long as it takes, which if history is anything to go by, could be a while. “We’ve been for many years, before setting up Mining Watch, part of the ‘Save Rosia Montana’ campaign. That fight lasted for nearly 15 years, but we succeeded in safeguarding the village as well as inspiring the nation. It taught us a very important lesson: persist and you’ll win. The Spring Prize is giving us the chance to continue to hope and to fight for a Certej gold mining free future.”

Keep up to date with this and other campaigns Mining Watch Romania supports at http://miningwatch.ro

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