Investigative Media

Rosemont answers Cyanide Beach

Cyanide Beach is a purported documentary film about the Furtei gold mine in Southern Sardinia, Italy. The film was produced by John Dougherty of Investigative Media. The film is a smear piece which attempts to associate directors of the Canadian mining company, Augusta Resource, the parent of Rosemont Copper, with environmental concerns in the Furtei mine in Italy. The implication of the film is that Rosemont cannot be trusted to be good environmental stewards of the land and in doing so, the film is very loose with the truth. The film attempts guilt by association, but as we shall see, Rosemont/Augusta had no association with the Furtei mine at the time it was abandoned.

Rosemont Copper has now responded to the film in a short video which you can see here:

I have not seen Cyanide Beach, just trailers from the film. I have read material from the website of Investigative Media and watched Rosemont’s video. The following is my understanding of what happened at Furtei based on information from both Rosemont and Investigative Media.

The Furtei mine is a gold property in Sardinia developed and operated by an Australian company called Sardinia Gold Mining, which began mining in 1997. When the oxide ore ran out in 2002, the Australian company abandoned the property, leaving a small open pit which had produced about 138,000 ounces of gold. In 2003, a Canadian junior mining company, Sargold, joined with the Italian government to evaluate the remaining potential of the Furtei mine. Sargold, shared five directors with Augusta Resource. The evaluation consisted of drilling exploration holes and recovering some gold from a small amount of leftover oxide ore. Total production was about 1,300 ounces of gold and silver.

The exploration results indicated that remaining gold would require underground mining, expensive processing, and a large initial capital investment, something Sargold was not willing to do. Other investors were interested, however. Sargold was merged into a company called Buffalo Gold in 2007.

At the time of the merger, the five Augusta directors left Sargold and Buffalo Gold thereby relinquishing any control of or responsibility for subsequent operations at Furtei. Due to the worldwide financial breakdown beginning in 2008, Buffalo Gold went bankrupt, leaving the property unreclaimed.

That is my understanding of events at Furtei.

The film Cyanide Beach was produced in 2012 when it seemed that Rosemont was well on its way to obtaining permits necessary to open a copper mine south of Tucson. Opponents of the mine were getting desperate. According to Rosemont, the film was commissioned by Farmers Investment Company (FICO) which grows pecans in the Santa Cruz Valley near the town of Green Valley. FICO is also attempting to build a housing development on its land. Both pecan growing and housing need water. Apparently FICO is opposed to the Rosemont mine because the mine will compete with it for water resources.

Cyanide Beach is nothing but a smear job, an attempt at guilt by association. The very name of the film is provocative. Cyanide is a standard, widely used, chemical employed for recovery of gold. There is no link between the five Augusta directors and the fate of Buffalo Gold and the Furtei mine. It is also not valid to compare, by implication, the very stringent environmental requirements in the U.S. with those in Italy. Besides the Furtei mine is apparently in no worse shape than that left by the original mining company.

There is an old expression: “Truth will out.” In this case it outed some very sleazy attack “journalism.”