Romania’s lower house of parliament has rejected a proposed bill that would allow Gabriel Resources to proceed with its $1.5bn Rosia Montana project, which would have been Europe’s largest open cast gold mine.
The company launched the project in the early 1990s by setting up the subsidiary Rosia Montana Gold (RMGC), which is yet to receive permits to commence operations.
The bill was initially approved by the government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta in 2013, but was widely criticised by thousands of anti-mine activists who protested against the bill and forced the senate to withdraw its decision.
In May of this year, Gabriel Resources announced that it will file an arbitration process against the Romanian Government, seeking damages for the 15-year delay of its Rosia Montana gold project.
According to Gabriel, the project would create four gold quarries throughout the mine’s lifespan, generate $5.2bn in taxes, royalties, services, jobs, and spur growth in the ailing mining sector in the region.
However, civil rights and environmental groups fear that the project would not only destroy the ancient Roman mine galleries and villages, but also the ecology of the region, citing the example of nearby tailings pond in the village of Geamana that was flooded with toxic chemicals by the Cupru Min mine during its copper extraction process.
Gabriel Resources has assured opponents that it will take advanced safety measures to prevent environmental damage, but protestors are concerned about the cyanide-based extraction technology that would be used in the gold and silver extraction process.
The project has been put on hold following parliament’s rejection of the bill.