Romanian minister says Canadian gold mine case could be hard to win

Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:07am EDT
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* Hard to defend Romania's position -infrastructure minister

* Romania may have to pay $2 bln damages to Canada's Gabriel

* Company aims to set up Europe's biggest open-cast mine

* Vote on project in parliament may be held on Sept. 17

By Radu Marinas

BUCHAREST, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Romania will have a hard time defending itself in court if it rejects plans by Canada's Gabriel Resources to set up Europe's biggest open-cast gold mine, the infrastructure minister said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta has said legislators are set to reject Gabriel's 14-year bid to build the mine due to mounting resistance from the public and from political leaders, and that parliament should prepare for an imminent vote.

Ponta says Gabriel may sue for up to $2 billion in damages if the mine project, which would use cyanide to extract gold and silver, is rejected. The company says the technology is safe.

The EU's second poorest member has needed international aid since 2009 after years of recession, and is in dire need of investment including in the mining, energy and farming sectors.   Continued...