- freely available
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 7261-7288; https://doi.org/10.3390/su7067261
2. The Decision-Making Context
3. The Stakeholders
- Alternative 1 (Alt. 1). The updated project with the provisions from the 2013 Agreement between RMGC and the Romanian Government (which was also debated by the Special Parliamentary Committee) .
- Alternative 2 (Alt. 2). The Zero alternative, which implies that the mining project would be dropped, but nothing else would be done instead in Roșia Montană. It is a non-action alternative and it was assessed from a series of documents, among which: the Environmental Impact Assessment for Roșia Montană Project (EIA) documentation submitted by the company , the report from the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Waters , following the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, a study from the Romanian Academy , the Special Committee’s Report  and other expert studies.
- Alternative 3 (Alt. 3). The project in its initial form, with the provisions from the 1999 Exploitation License  and its additional agreements.
- Alternative 4 (Alt. 4). The alternative of touristic development in the Roşia Montană area. On the Chamber of Deputies webpage, a forum  for debate on the Roşia Montană issues has a thread destined for discussing alternatives other than the RMGC project for the development of the area. The tourism alternative seems to be the most popular among the civil society sector, including among research institutions such as The Academy for Economic Studies or the Romanian Academy. Citizens, local NGOs and the Save Roşia Montană campaign have been promoting this alternative through an annual activist festival in Roşia Montană, lobbying for the inclusion of its cultural heritage on the UNESCO list of protected heritage sites. An ample study  on the touristic potential of development of the area was conducted by the National Institute of Research and Development in Tourism during 2004–2006, financed through the Poland and Hungary: Assistance for Restructuring their Economies (PHARE) program and the Ministry of Education and Research. The institute is responsible with elaborating strategies and impact studies for touristic development throughout Romania, many of their results leading to regional development strategies and financed by the Ministry of Tourism. However, the five volumes report is only accessible at the National Institute of Research and Development in Tourism archives.
- [−1, 0] most probably negative consequences (or best case none), but the intensity is unknown
- [0,1] most probably positive consequences (or no consequences), but the intensity is unknown
- 0 neutral
- −1 negative (e.g., environmental costs such as the high amount of energy and other natural resources consumed for the project are a certain negative impact)
- 1 positive, which was never used, taking into consideration that it would also imply a relative consensus among experts
- [−1, 1] where experts are almost equally divided and it is difficult to say whether the consequence would be good or bad; or where we do not have enough reliable data for such predictions.
5. Evaluation and Analysis of Alternatives
5.1. Scenario 1
- Alt. 3 (The project in the initial form, with the provisions from the 1999 license) is the least advantageous of the four, and can be discarded (at a contraction level of 85% there is no overlap with the others, and the values are negative and lowest).
- Alt. 4 (Tourism) appears to be the optimal decision in this scenario.
- Alt. 1 (The mining project in its updated form) and Alt. 2 (No mining project, nothing instead) overlap entirely, which means that in this scenario there is not enough data to differentiate between them, the consequences of each option being rather comparable. Figure 3 confirms that the difference between Alt. 1 and Alt. 2 is insignificant and that more detailed data is needed in order to better comparatively assess the two options.
5.2. Sensitivity Analysis
5.3. Other Scenarios Advanced in the Public Debates:
- If a different technology is used in the exploitation, skipping the cyanide leaching process and the toxic tailings raising the environmental concerns, weights would be impossible to estimate within Alt. 1, since Roşia Montană Gold Corporation is not willing to modify the technology. The entire business plan, feasibility and investment studies are built on the present technology. A separate alternative backed by a feasibility study of alternative exploitations of the deposits should be analyzed by the Romanian state or by other investors.
- If Corna Valley is not used for the construction of the tailings management facility, the risk of toxic tailings permeating the underground waters would considerably diminish, according to the National Institute of Geology. In the multi-criteria tree, the difference would be visible by changing the possible outcomes for the subcriterion Underground waters, within Environment, in the case of the project approval. The interval [−1, 0] is changed with a most likely point 0. The change does not affect the final cardinal ranking of the alternatives.
- If mining legislation is adopted so as to ease the approval of environmental permits needed for the implementation of Alt. 1, the RMGC project, the risks and benefits of this alternative increase proportionally, as they can be replicated in other similar future projects. Also, taking into consideration the release of new licenses for exploration by the National Agency for Mineral Resources, the precedent of the Roşia Montană project can lead to similar choices to be employed in the future by investors.
- If we consider the documentation provided by the National Institute of Research and Development in Tourism  on Alt. 4, we can see that their research and cost-benefit analysis aim at a touristic development of not only the Roşia Montană area, but also of other areas in Apuseni Mountains affected by mining closures after Romania’s accession to the European Union. A successful sustainable development through tourism could as well be replicated.
6. Research Limitations
- Research in cooperation with other EU member states of alternative technologies leading to environmentally safer mining—see researcher Jack Goldstein’s  (pp. 17–18) proposed method for Roşia Montană, which uses sodium thiosulfate as the main reactive substance for solubilization; cost-benefits analysis; sustainability; and range of applicability.
- Perform an even more elaborated analysis by expanding the multi-criteria tree with more detailed technical information, leading to a wider number of branches and subcriteria, after gaining more input on: touristic development, local authority plans in case the project is rejected for good, public opinion preferences and perceived risks and needs.
- Introduce more alternatives for sustainable development in areas where state-funded mining was ceased.
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