Romania’s ruling coalition abandons major gold mining project

By bne IntelliNews September 10, 2013

Romania’s ruling coalition has withdrawn its support to the major gold mining project Rosia Montana - and the main private partner in the project – Canada-registered Gabriel Resources [with a 75% share], warned of court trials, HotNews reported.

PM Victor Ponta has declared the project “closed” and recommended to the ruling party members in parliament to speed up the regular voting procedures on a bill initially aimed at accelerating the project.

In principle, the project could go forward without the bill – based on regular procedures, but it is hard to believe agencies supervised by the government would issue the functioning permits without the political support after the recent developments. They would rather delay the permits based on bureaucratic grounds until the exploitation licence expires.

Gabriel Resources would “commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties,” the company announced in a press release.

As we reported, the government has endorsed a bill aimed at speeding up the Rosia Montana project that has been lagging for years, but it submitted the document to the parliament for further endorsement. The document, never disclosed, stipulated that the Romanian state would issue functioning permits under a specified schedule in exchange for higher [over 25%] public participation in the project.

After eight days of street protests against the environmental effects of the project, the president of the junior ruling coalition PNL, Crin Antonescu [also head of the Senate], announced it no longer supports the project.

PM Ponta, also president of the senior ruling coalition, announced that the project should be quickly rejected by lawmakers – indicating that most of the ruling coalition MPs would vote against. Apparently there was no coordination between the two and Antonescu’s firm statement against the project visibly annoyed Ponta. Nonetheless, Ponta himself has voiced statements against the project previously – which looked somehow awkward after when becoming a PM he endorsed the bill.

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