Investment fund Fribourg Investments, controlled by businessman Ion Sturza, the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, took over 49 percent in Romaltyn Limited, a company which owns a mining project in Baia Mare. The deal also covers the operational control of the recycling project for mining waste and includes an expected EUR 18 million bill in taxes and royalties.
In April 2012, Russian Polyus Gold International Limited sold Romaltyn Mining S.R.L. and Romaltyn Exploration S.R.L- both under the Romaltyn Limited umbrella - to a company from Kazakhstan, SAT & Company JSC, for some USD 20 million. Romaltyn Mining S.R.L. and Romaltyn Exploration S.R.L. hold rights to various mining assets in Romania including a gold treatment plant with a capacity of 2.5 million tonnes of ore and tailings annually, currently not in operation, and a number of exploration properties.
The new buyers plan to re-start Romaltyn's activity in the fourth quarter of 2013, following investments of some USD 40 million, which will go into new equipment for the site. Part of the investment has already been made between 2007 and 2012. From this point on, the investors expect to hire 150 extra staff, and reach a team of 200 people.
The previous owners Polyus Group were planning to invest some USD 14 million in 2010 in mining technologies to re-start gold extraction. Romaltyn's sterile sludge pond triggered an international ecological accident, when sludge and cyanide leaked from the pond into the Lapus, Somes, Tisa and Danube rivers in 2000. Two years later, the EU created a new international code for the management of cyanide, which is used in the gold production process.
Fribourg's declared aim is to turn the project into a pilot scheme for recycling mining waste and for ecological revamping, "especially as we take over something with a problematic background,” said Ion Sturza. “ Romaltyn's activity solves an existing problem – the deposited waste is an important source of pollution – and opens ways of revitalizing many companies in the Baia Mare area,” the investor went on.
The actual activity will be carried on over five years, when around 8.5 million tonnes of mining waset will be eliminated, when the mining sludge is re-treated, non-ferous metals – silver and gold- will be retrieved and the 165 hectare site will be ecologically revamped.
The project will be managed by Sergiu Chirca, the CEO of Fribourg Investments in Romania, and administrator of Romaltyn, together with a five-person board, including the investors Ion Sturza and Kenes Rakishev, and three independent directors: Kazakh entrepreneur Nurlan Abduov, Romanian banker Dan Pascariu, head of the UniCredit Tiriac bank board, and international expert in mineral resources Bogdan Popescu.
Ion Sturza previously invested in Romania via Fribourg Investments. In 2011, it announced an investment of USD 20 million in Liberty Center Technological Park in Cluj – Napoca, on the premises of the former Libertatea furniture factory, which was already demolished late last year.