Romania moves to block Canadian gold mine project

Thu Dec 6, 2007 8:18am EST
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By Radu Marinas

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania looks set to ban the use of cyanide in mining in a move that will effectively block a Canadian project to build Europe's biggest open cast gold mine, officials said on Thursday.

Gabriel Resources has already invested more than $300 million in the Rosia Montana gold mine in the central province of Transylvania but the project has faced a series of hurdles over health and environmental worries.

A key environmental review required for the project was suspended by Romania's Environment Ministry in September following a court challenge from non-governmental organizations.

Gabriel has said the suspension is illegal and designed to appease voters, and has said it will use "all resources at its disposal" to reverse the decision. But it has said it will slash jobs and scale back activities related to the project.

A bill is now progressing through parliament that would effectively kill off the project by banning all cyanide mining.

Its sponsor, Senator Peter Eckstein-Kovacs, told Reuters on Thursday the bill had now secured government support and was very likely to be passed.

"There is a big chance that our proposed plan to ban cyanide in gold and silver mining will pass parliament. We have secured government backing ... and many opposition deputies back it."

"HAZARDOUS"   Continued...