November 11, 2013 / 6:48 PM / 5 years ago

Romanian commission rejects Canadian gold mine project

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A special Romanian parliamentary commission overwhelmingly rejected a draft bill that would allow Canada’s Gabriel Resources GBU.TO to set up Europe’s biggest open-cast gold mine in the Carpathian mountains.

A woman holds a sign reading "We're watching you. United we save! Save Rosia Montana!" in front of Romania's Parliament palace in Bucharest November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

Gabriel has been waiting 14 years for approval to use cyanide to mine about 314 tons of gold and 1,500 tons of silver in the town of Rosia Montana in Transylvania. The state also holds a minority stake in the mine.

The draft, which triggered countrywide protests against the mine with weekly protests staged in the capital Bucharest and some other cities, prompted the government in September to set up a commission to assess the bill.

Ruling coalition co-leader and senate speaker Crin Antonescu said before the vote that the bill would be rejected.

One of the 19-member commission lawmakers, Attila Korody told Reuters, “The commission believes the bill under consideration does not entirely meet all the complex requirements on the conduct of business in mineral resource exploitation in Romania and therefore, proposes its rejection.”

Every member of the commission, barring two who abstained, voting against the bill. The report will follow “normal parliamentary proceedings and a final vote later this month”.

Analysts expect parliament to endorse the report.

Korody read the conclusion of the commission’s report, which called for new mining legislation, to Reuters by telephone, “The present report proposes a series of actions to establish a coherent legislative framework able to support Romania’s state negotiation in projects of this size.”

Earlier this year, the leftist government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta proposed a bill to speed up the project by setting strict deadlines for the approval process.

Darius Valcov, a member of Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s ruling Social Democrat Party and head of the commission said, “This debate was long but needed ... if the government hadn’t had taken the responsibility to pick up this hot potato and launch it into debate, I don’t think someone else would have had the courage to do so.”

Dozens of people had protested in front of parliament during the commission session on Monday.

Editing by Louise Ireland

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