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Romania: Canadian gold mine of national interest

August 28, 2013

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s government is making a renewed push to get a Canadian gold mine project under way in Transylvania amid protests from historians and environmentalists.

Canada’s Rosia Montana Gold Corp. has been waiting for permits for 14 years for the mine, which is estimated to contain 300 tons of gold and 1,600 tons of silver.

The government press office said Wednesday a law has been drafted declaring the project of “special national interest.” Romania would have a 25 percent stake in the project if it were implemented, up from 20 percent that it had initially negotiated and hundreds of jobs would be created. The law needs parliamentary approval.

President Traian Basescu, a strong supporter of the project, says Romania needs vital foreign investment and jobs the project would bring to a deprived area. Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who initially opposed the mine, now agrees. The mine would initially create 2,300 jobs as it is being built with 900 jobs once it is operational.

But some local residents say their town, which has been attracting gold prospectors since Roman times, is a popular tourist destination and an open-cast mine, which uses cyanide in the extraction process, could be potentially hazardous and irreversibly damage the area. Also, the mine would be depleted of all its gold within only a few years.

The Canadian company has pledged to protect the environment and national heritage and invest economically in the area.

Eugen David, a leading opponent of the mine, told The Associated Press Wednesday he would take his protest to the European Parliament and the European Union.

“The government has been unable to get this project approved for 14 years because it is not in line with Romanian legislation and now it creates a special law. If Parliament passes this, it is compromised.”