After years of struggle and, most recently, historic protests throughout Romania and abroad, over 20,000 people took to the streets in Romania last week to protest a mining project in the western commune of Roşia Montana. Among the charges brought by the protestors were irrevocable harm to a historic location (the Romans mined gold there two thousand years ago), environmental harm through the use of over 13,000 tons of cyanide (for which there are now far cleaner alternatives for “green gold”), political corruption, and a lack of transparency. At issue is the state’s decision to sign a secret contract with Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources while at the very same time attempting to use its sovereign authority to take private property under the guise of serving the “public interest.”
On Monday morning, leading government officials announced that the project would likely not go forward. As a result, Gabriel Resources stocks plunged on the Toronto stock market. Gabriel Resources has threatened to sue the government of Romania for $4 billion dollars in damages for breach of various international trade agreements and provisions of international trade as set out by the World Trade Organization and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.