Thursday, October 3, 2013

Protests seek to halt Romanian gold and silver mining project


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BUCHAREST, Romania — Some 15,000 people filled the streets of Bucharest in recent days to protest a draft law passed by the government designed to approve Europe's largest gold mining project in Rosia Montana, a small town in northern Romania.

The huge mobilization came after two weeks of continued protests against what some have called a defiance of constitutional and environmental norms in favor of the Canadian-owned Rosia Montana Gold Corporation.

Protesters came from several Romanian cities and major capitals around the world. They demonstrated not only against the mining project, but also against the ruling class and the Romanian political system.

They contend that the mine's liberal use of cyanide and heavy metals such as mercury will create a major environmental risk. Protesters also accused authorities of trying to sell off Romania’s assets too cheaply.

Local miners blockaded themselves 300 meters below ground and threatened to go on a hunger strike over fears jobs would be lost if plans for the gold mine do not go ahead.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta finally met with the strikers and persuaded them to end their protest, promising he would send a parliamentary committee to the area.

The exploration project intends to extract approximately 300 tons of gold and 1,600 tons of silver by excavating four mountain peaks. It has been held up since 1997, waiting to receive an environmental permit.

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