Compensation of 6.7 billion dollars in the case of Roşia Montană

English Section / 23 februarie

Photo source: www.gabriel

Photo source: www.gabriel

Versiunea în limba română

The government should pay compensation to the Canadian company Gabriel Resources in the amount of 6.7 billion dollars for preventing the development of the mining project in Roşia Montană, according to a document issued by the Ministry of Finance, cited by Agerpres. The compensations were awarded by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), but the reasoned decision of the arbitration court has not yet been communicated to the Ministry of Finance and "the exact moment of communication is not known either", it states cited source.

However, the Government maintains that there are avenues of appeal, to which it could appeal, these procedural means being established by the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Persons of Other States, concluded in Washington on March 18, 1965, a convention to which the country ours is part.

The quoted document also states: "The international arbitration action was initiated in 2015 against Romania by two foreign investors, namely Gabriel Resources Ltd. and Gabriel Resources (Jersey), and was based on the agreements regarding the mutual promotion and guarantee of investments concluded by Romania with the Government of Canada (ratified by Law no. 356/2009) and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (ratified by Law no. 109/1995). (...) In this way, the claimants requested the international arbitral tribunal to find that Romania violated the fair and equitable treatment and the full protection and security of the investment of Gabriel Resources Ltd. and Gabriel Resources (Jersey), rights protected by the two international protection agreements of investments. The total updated value of the claimed damages was, at the level of 2024, approximately USD 6.7 billion".

The legal representation of Romania in this file was provided by the consortium formed by the law firms Lalive Avocats (Switzerland) and SCA Leaua, Damcali, Deaconu, Păunescu (Romania). The arbitral tribunal was constituted by three members with international experience, namely a Swiss, an Argentinian and an Australian-Swiss.

The government also shows that, during the detailed claims of the arbitration action, the plaintiffs stated that "this dispute was determined by the way of implementation of the so-called Roşia Montană Gold Mining Project", and accused that the Romanian authorities included "in improperly and then maintained an area of the Roşia Montană gold mining project on a List of Historical Monuments starting from 2010".

According to the plaintiffs, the specialized Commission established within the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests did not issue a recommendation regarding the assessment of the impact of the Roşia Montană Gold Mining Project on the environment for approximately nine years (2006-2015), a document that was not issued even today. Moreover, they brought to the attention of the arbitration court that in 2013, "Parliament initiated a law that was not necessary and, subsequently, rejected the draft law that would have allowed the implementation of the Roşia Montană Gold Mining Project".

Regarding the claims of the plaintiff companies, the Government specifies that in its defenses "it rejected the plaintiffs' accusations regarding the violation of international agreements (...) and presented to the arbitral tribunal its argument regarding the plaintiffs' own fault for the fact that they failed to obtain the approvals provided for by the legislation national for the construction of the necessary facilities for mining in the town of Roşia Montană and for mining itself".

According to the defense formulated by the Executive in the file he lost,

the plaintiffs are "the only ones responsible" for the state in which they find themselves today, because "they failed to obtain even the social license for mining".

The cited document states: "The phrase social license is commonly used in the mining industry to express the support that companies, wishing to mine in a certain area, must obtain from local communities and other interested parties. The fact that the plaintiffs did not obtain the social license and that they, through the Romanian company that holds the exploitation license, failed to obtain the necessary approvals for the implementation of the mining project cannot be Romania's fault".

Regarding the listing of the Roşia Montană area in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, in order to defend the decisions already taken by some national public authorities, Romanian lawyers claimed that "the registration with UNESCO does not affect the right of investors to request the necessary permits for the realization of the mining project". It was also invoked that "the registration decision is not an action of Romania, but of UNESCO".

However, the court of arbitration ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, so the Romanian state is obliged to pay them compensation in the amount of 6.7 billion dollars.

Regarding the compensations established by the court to be paid by the Romanian state in the case of Roşia Montană, we mention that at the beginning of the government meeting on February 1, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu declared: "I'm used to the bills coming to me as prime minister for all the nonsense done by others. (...) I asked all the colleagues who have information and who approved or did not approve this project, all these documents to be collected, all the documents from the lawyers that I had in this process, so that the Romanians, all of them, know the truth. (...) I promise you that all the documents, all the abuses, all the political and administrative decisions taken for Romania to lose this process, I will make them available to you and the Romanians to know very clearly who was wrong in this case".

The last two heads of government who were connected, in one way or another, with this file, are Victor Ponta and Dacian Cioloş. While Victor Ponta supported the realization of mining exploitation, support for which the government led by him faced extensive street protests from civil society, Dacian Cioloş was the prime minister who really started the process of registering the mining site in the UNESCO heritage.

We remind you that the Roşia Montană scandal started in 1997, when the authorities granted the concession license for the exploitation of gold and silver ores in the area to the state company Minvest Deva, for a period of 20 years. After four months, the license was transferred to the company with majority private capital Euro Gold Resources, which in 2000 changed its name to Roşia Montană Gold Corporation. The company was established specifically for the exploitation of the Roşia Montană deposit. The company's shareholders were the Canadian company Gabriel Resources and Minvest Deva. The Canadian company was controlled by important names in world business, such as John Paulson, Thomas Kaplan and Beny Steinmetz, sentenced to 5 years in prison in the "Băneasa Farm" case.

According to Gabriel Resources representatives, 300 tons of gold and 1,600 tons of silver can be extracted from the Roşia Montană deposit. Their value was estimated, in 2013, at over 16 billion dollars.

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