Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Protest over Canadian gold mine project in Romania

AFP

BUCHAREST — Dozens of Romanians protested Tuesday against a Canadian company's plans to open a gold mine in Transylvania and called on the culture minister to resign over his support to this project.

The protest in front of the culture ministry in Bucharest came days after a local department of the ministry issued an archaeological discharge certificate which opponents allege will destroy ancient Roman vestiges at the site.

"How can anyone pretend the Roman mines will be protected when the Canadian company plans to blow up the mountain where they are" in order to extract gold and silver, Stefania Simion of Alburnus Maior association said. The association gathers villagers opposed to the project.

"The permit issued by the ministry is illegal," she added, stressing that a similar document delivered in 2004 was nullified by a local court.

"We cannot let the culture minister Hunor Kelemen destroy this country," an architecture student, Ioana Banica, said.

The protesters also claimed the open-cast mine project will pose serious environmental risks as cyanide will be used in the extraction process.

"Kelemen, you take the cyanide and leave us the culture," they chanted.

Canadian company Gabriel Resources, which holds an 80 percent stake in Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, obtained a concession license to exploit the local gold in 1999. More than a decade later, the firm has still not been granted all the required permits.

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