Romanian Parliament commission says ‘No’ to gold mining at Rosia Montana but legislators expected to draft new law

After weeks of street protests in Bucharest and across Romania against the gold mining project at Rosia Montana in Central Romania, the Parliament commission tasked with revising the project rejected it. But this is not the end for the gold mining project, as the Parliament is expected to draft a new law.

In its Monday afternoon meeting (November 11), the commission decided with a majority of votes – 17 against only two abstentions – to reject the project which had been sent by the Government to the Parliament earlier this year.

The decision was predictable after Social Liberal Union (USL) co-leader Crin Antonescu said earlier during the day that the political decision at the USL meeting on Monday morning was against the gold mine project. Prime Minister Victor Ponta, also co-leader of the USL, added that the mining project at Rosia Montana will be however based on a piece of legislation which will be drafted by the Parliament.

The gold mining project at Rosia Montana has triggered many controversies over the years, the use of cyanide and the landscape destruction wrought by the project are the main concerns of the mine’s critics. Canadian gold mining company Gabriel Resources owns 80.7 percent of Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, the company which wants to carry on the local project. The Romanian state owns the rest of the shares.

According to earlier data approved by the Government, gold exploitation at Rosia Montana was 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 would 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). According to the media, behind Gabriel Resources are billionaires such as John Paulson, Beny Steinmetz and Thomas Kaplan.

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.

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