Thousands rally in Romania against gold mine

Sun Sep 1, 2013 4:07pm EDT
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* Govt approved gold mine plan, parliament vote needed

* Protesters criticise cyanide, relocation issues

BUCHAREST, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Thousands of Romanians across the country rallied late on Sunday to protest against the leftist government's support for a plan to open Europe's biggest open-cast gold mine in the small Carpathian town of Rosia Montana.

The project, which aims to use cyanide to mine 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver, has drawn fierce opposition from civic rights groups and environmentalists, who say it would destroy ancient Roman gold mines and villages.

It is led by Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, majority-owned by Canada's Gabriel Resources Ltd with the Romanian government holding roughly 20 percent.

The project has been valued at $7.5 billion based on a 2007 study that used an average price of $900 per ounce of gold, with Romania estimated to get about 75 percent of the benefits in taxes, royalties, dividends and jobs.

Gold currently trades around $1,390 per ounce.

Earlier this week the government approved a draft law enabling Gabriel to open the mine after securing a bigger stake in the project, which has been awaiting a green light for 14 years. Parliament is expected to vote on the law this month.

In the capital Bucharest, up to 3,000 protesters marched towards the government headquarters from University Square, the scene of violent anti-austerity protests early last year that toppled a previous government.   Continued...