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Deadline extended on study into Gabriel’s Romanian gold mine

Demonstrators wear gas masks while shouting slogans during a protest against Gabriel Resources, in Bucharest, Romania, in 2011. Gabriel Resources Ltd. says the deadline for a key report needed to debate the fate of its Rosia Montana gold mine in Romania has been extended by three weeks into November, 2013.

Vadim Ghirda/AP

Gabriel Resources Ltd. says the deadline for a key study deciding the fate of its Rosia Montana gold mine in Romania has been extended by three weeks.

The Canadian junior mining company has been fighting to keep alive its controversial $1.4-billion (U.S.) open-pit project amid mounting public opposition over environmental, social and economic concerns.

Early last month, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said parliament would likely reject a draft mining law allowing the project to go ahead.

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Gabriel responded by threatening to sue the government for $4-billion if the law were to die.

Meanwhile, work on the study – charged with assessing the draft law – continued even in the face of threats by the government that discussion in parliament on granting the necessary permits would be halted.

The deadline for submission of the study was initially set for Oct. 20, but Gabriel said on Wednesday that it has been extended to Nov. 10.

The findings of the committee writing up the study are to go to the standing bureau of the senate, which will then debate the draft law.

The draft law would then be sent to the chamber of deputies, parliament's decision-making body.

Gabriel launched the Rosia Montana project 15 years ago with plans to build Europe's biggest gold mine in a village in the Transylvanian mountains of Romania.

Local citizens have protested what they say will be the destruction of the village of Rosia Montana, critics say the region's heritage – including 2,000-year-old Roman mining corridors and Rosia Montana's historic centre – is threatened, and environmentalists and citizens are concerned over the proposed use of cyanide in the extraction process.

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Protesters also say the government is giving away a key asset and getting little in return besides modest job-creation.

Gabriel says the mine would follow the highest and most stringent environmental standards and special measures would be taken to preserve the local and national cultural heritage.

The company also says the project would bring more than $24-billion to Romania as "potential direct and indirect contribution to GDP," with gold at $1,200 per ounce.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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