The company had plans to use hazardous cyanide compounds to separate the gold and silver from the rock. The mine’s waste rock then would form a 185 meter-high dam across the Corna valley, provoking relocation of the valley’s residents. A hazardous cyanide storage pond, together with tons of waste laden with heavy metals, would cover as many as 600 hectares or nearly 1,500 acres. As a result, the nearby Aries River, the most important water resource in the region, is at serious risk of pollution, threatening the health and lives of 100,000 people.
To prevent this wide-scale destruction, and despite repeated death threats, Roth organized the first large-scale protests in Romania since 1989, when anti-government demonstrators overthrew the Ceausescu regime and the communist party. She has mobilized local residents and created a coalition of national non-governmental organizations, archaeological specialists, academics and clergy to fight the mining proposal.
As a result of Roth’s campaign, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) withdrew support for the mining project in October 2002. For the first time, the IFC issued a statement expressing its grave social and environmental concerns.
The European Parliament sent a delegation to the site in October 2003 and again in December 2004. The project, found to be in clear breach of various EU directives, caused the European Parliament to adopt Article 41, in which it expresses its deep concern that the Rosia Montana mine development poses a serious environmental threat to the whole region and states that it will carefully monitor the project’s development, both in terms of its conformity to EU environmental law and also how it relates to Romania’s accession to the EU.