Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Normal' is killing us.

Donald Trump is out of the White House. COVID-19 is fading, at least in wealthier nations. The world, they say, is returning to “normal.” That’s the narrative that the corporate media is selling. But there’s a problem: “normal” is destroying our planet, threatening our democracies, concentrating massive wealth in a tiny elite, and leaving billions of people without access to life-saving vaccines amid a deadly pandemic. Here at Common Dreams, we refuse to accept any of this as “normal.” Common Dreams just launched our Mid-Year Campaign to make sure we have the funding we need to keep the progressive, independent journalism of Common Dreams alive. Whatever you can afford—no amount is too large or too small—please donate today to support our nonprofit, people-powered journalism and help us meet our goal.

Please select a donation method:

Rosia Montana in Romania. (Photo: Cristian Bortes/flickr/cc)

European Mining Dispute Illustrates Risks of Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals

A Canadian corporation is seeking damages after being blocked from creating an open-pit mine over environmental concerns

Offering a stark warning of how corporate-friendly trade pacts like the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) put both democracy and the environment at risk, a Canadian company is seeking damages from Romania after being blocked from creating an open-pit gold mine over citizen concerns.

Gabriel Resources Ltd. announced last week that it had filed a request for arbitration with the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a body not unlike the secret tribunals that critics like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have warned against.

The corporation's Rosia Montana open-pit gold mine project stalled after a series of protests in cities across Romania in 2013 demanded Gabriel's plan be dropped. As Common Dreams reported at the time, Romanian residents and environmental activists have opposed the mine since it was proposed in the 1990s, charging that it would blast off mountaintops, destroy a potential UNESCO World Heritage site, and displace residents from the town of Rosia Montana and nearby villages. In particular, local communities opposed the use of cyanide as part of the extraction process. 

Such opposition led to widespread street protests in 2013, which in turn pressured the Romanian Parliament to reject a bill introduced by the government that would have paved the way for the mine.

Now, Gabriel Resources, which holds an 80 percent stake in the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, says (pdf) the country has violated international treaties. Bloomberg reports that in 2013, Gabriel threatened to seek as much as $4 billion of damages should Romanian lawmakers vote to oppose its gold and silver project in the country.

But as Claudia Ciobanu, a Romanian freelance journalist based in Warsaw, wrote on Monday, "Gabriel is...effectively trying to make Romanians pay for having pushed their legislators to do the right thing."

She continued: "With the vast expansion of the use of investor-state dispute settlement brought about by the TTIP...Romanians and other Europeans can only expect more of such cases. According to some analyses, the TTIP and a few other trade agreements negotiated at the moment would expand the coverage of investor-state arbitration from around 20% to around 80% of investment flows to and from the U.S. and the EU. Additionally, current experience shows that developing countries are much more often targets of corporations than rich ones."

Or, she concluded, "The recent case opened by Gabriel Resources against Romania serves as an omen of what Europe's future may look like if citizen power is not restored."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Support progressive journalism.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'It's One Deal': Warren Says She Won't Vote for Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan Without Climate, Child Care

"We can't let the infrastructure train leave the station while child care and clean energy get left on the platform—or while billionaires and big corporations don't pay their fair share in taxes."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


'We Can't Turn Our Backs': 60+ Lawmakers Demand Biden Extend Pause on Student Loan Payments

"President Biden should cancel student debt, but in the meantime he should extend the payment pause so that borrowers aren't hurt."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


US and Israel Vote 'No' as 184 Nations Condemn American Blockade of Cuba

"The U.N. vote... on Cuba was a chance for President Biden to show global leadership," said CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin. "He failed miserably."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


With Planet's Future at Stake, Biden Told to Be Bold With Pick for Top Energy Post

"It's time to treat climate change like the emergency it is, and stop approving new fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, reads a letter signed by over 300 climate-focused groups.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


SCOTUS Solidifies Students' Free Speech Protections, Upholding Right to Say 'F**k Cheer'

"The message from this ruling is clear—free speech is for everyone, and that includes public school students."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·