Several hundred people started a protest in downtown Bucharest on Sunday evening against the Rosia Montana gold mining project, which was recently approved by Romania’s Government.
The protesters took over the street in downtown Bucharest on Sunday afternoon (September 1), marching to the Government headquarters in Victoriei Square.
The group reached 2,000 by the time it arrived in front of the Government building, according to Romanian media. According to estimations by the Police, the number of protesters was in fact between 4,000 and 7,000.
Among the protesters was the MP Theodor Paleologu from the Democrat Liberal Party (PDL), who said he would oppose the project at the upcoming Parliament vote.
Similar protests were organized in other Romanian cities as well.
The Save Rosia Montana protests came as the Romanian Parliament prepares to vote on the law, which will allow Rosia Montana Gold Corporation to exploit gold in central Romania.
Gold exploitation at Rosia Montana is expected to begin in November 2016, as the area’s urban plan should be approved by end-2013.
The state’s participation in the venture should increase by 5.69 percent, to 25 percent of the shares, if all permits are issued on time.
To begin exploiting the site, the investor will have to pay the Romanian Government a royalty of 6 percent of the production’s value, according to a draft of the Agreement between the Government, Gabriel Resources and Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC).
The Rosia Montana gold mining project, which has been widely opposed in Romania, has been blocked for several years because of environmental protection disputes.
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta recently said that as an MP he would vote against the bill related to the mining project, however, as PM, he can’t give a negative vote as he needs to attract new investments to Romania.
Opposed by NGOs, the project has been lobbied for by politicians including by Romania’s president Traian Basescu, who has argued the gold mine would bring revenues to the state budget and much needed jobs.
The Rosia Montana site in Alba county is evaluated at containing some 300 tonnes of gold and 1,600 tonnes of silver and has been under concession to Roşia Montană Gold Corporation for exploitation.
The Rosia Montana Gold Corporation company is controlled by the Canadian firm Gabriel Resources, which owns 80.7 percent of its shares.
According to the media, behind Gabriel Resources are billionaires such as John Paulson, Beny Steinmetz and Thomas Kaplan.