Protestors against gold mine project in Romania seek govt resignation

By bne IntelliNews September 2, 2013

Some 3,000 protestors have rallied in downtown Bucharest against the government plans to go forward with the Rosia Montana gold mining project, HotNews reported.

The protest came after the Romanian government gave the green light to the project last month, which nonetheless needs a parliament endorsement before moving further.

PM Victor Ponta’s puzzling speech against the project [after the government endorsed it] has not toned down the protestors demands for a government resignation.

The political implications of the protests, which will likely to continue in the following days, could however go further than the gold mining project. Typical environmental protestors just returned from holiday and the weather is appropriate for broader political rallies against the government.

The support for the leftist cabinet of PM Ponta has deteriorated gradually since his PSD party overthrew its rivals in April 2012. Environmental protest took place in more Romanian cities over the weekend. They were also directed against the shale gas projects.

Notably, before taking office, PM Ponta had harshly criticised both the gold mining and the shale gas projects.

The key controversial issue of the gold mining project is its environmental impact since the exploitation would involve cyanide.

Romania’s government endorsed on August 27 the law that regulates the operations at the Rosia Montana project and submitted it for further approval to the parliament.

Extraction operations at Rosia Montana are scheduled to begin in November 2016 after all necessary permits are issued by the respective authorities (expected at end-2013), according to the draft agreement between the government and the project operator - Rosia Montana Gold Corporation [RMGC].

The main stipulations of the law endorsed by the government refer to: i. the majority investor giving up gradually a supplementary 5.7% stake in the project to the Romanian state as the permits is issued [the state participation would hit 25%], ii. extraction royalties of 6% [versus the 4% regular rate for other mineral extraction projects] and iii. the project company finances the conservation and revitalisation of the cultural heritage in the region with specific amounts of money.

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