Miners end protest in Rosia Montana abandoned mine after one-hour talk to Romanian PM

A group of miners who refused to leave an abandoned mine in support of the Rosia Montana gold mine project have returned to the surface after a visit from Romanian PM Victor Ponta.

Initially 22 miners blocked themselves in the shaft on September 22, asking for head of the Senate Crin Antonescu to meet with them after the politician voiced his opposition to the plans.

When Antonescu failed to show up, another 11 miners joined the protest.

Last night, the PM descended into the abandoned mine and talked with the group for about an hour before promising to create a special Parliament commission, which would visit Rosia Montana prior to a decision being made.

Ponta then asked the miners to return home to their families, reminding them that school starts on Monday, and fathers should accompany their children on the first day.

Meanwhile, in Bucharest and in other cities in Romania and even abroad, anti-gold mine protesters were taking to the streets, in the 15th day of protests.

In Bucharest, the protest appears to have been the largest so far, at least 10,000 protesters turning out.

The gold mining project, which has been met with wide opposition and street protests against the use of cyanide in the mining process, is currently under debate in the Parliament.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta recently said that rejecting the project would probably wipe the Alba county, where Rosia Montana is located, off the economic map.

Canadian gold mining company Gabriel Resources owns 80.7 percent of Rosia Montana Gold Corporation. The Romanian state owns the rest of the shares.

The project has been blocked over the last 15 years at various stages mostly because of environmental issues.

It was finally approved by the Romanian Government earlier this year, and then sent to the Parliament, which has the final say.

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(photo source: Victor Ponta on Facebook)

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