CORRECTED-Romania's gold mine project on hold after parliament rejects bill

Tue Jun 3, 2014 5:22pm EDT
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(Corrects to removes reference to cyanide use in copper extraction in paragraph 9.)

* In lower house, 302 votes against draft law and one in favour

* Rejection of bill puts the project on hold for now

* Canada's Gabriel has been awaiting approval for more than 15 years

By Luiza Ilie

BUCHAREST, June 3 (Reuters) - Romania's lower house of parliament rejected a bill on Tuesday that would have allowed Canada's Gabriel Resources to proceed with plans to set up Europe's biggest open-cast gold mine, putting the project on hold indefinitely.

The bill, which was initially approved by the leftist government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, drew thousands of anti-mine protesters into the streets across the European Union country last year, prompting the senate to strike it down.

The lower house had the final say, and data it published on Tuesday showed deputies rejected the draft law with 302 votes against and one in favour.

Romania is one of Europe's poorest countries but it is comparatively rich in natural resources, including gas, coal and gold. Tuesday's vote has kicked into the long grass a project the government has said is vital to reviving an ailing mining sector in a Romanian region in dire need of jobs and investment.   Continued...