Romania: Mining Trouble

Central Europe News Briefs

News | Vienna Review | December 2011 / January 2012

Several Romanian cities have seen recurrent demonstrations against the introduction of cyanide mining in Roșia Montană, a gold mining site in northwestern Romania.

The ongoing demonstrations, which resumed in Bucharest, Cluj and Timisoara in October, first started in 2006 when the government mooted giving Gabriel Resources, a Canadian mining firm, the rights to open Europe’s largest open cast gold mine in Roșia Montană.

The mining operations would involve cyanidation, a controversial technique for extracting gold from a low-grade ore that protesters fear will damage the environment and displace 3,800 villagers from the area.

Romanian President Traian Băsescu has publicly backed the project, arguing that it would create jobs, but Jo Leinen, chairman of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee has criticised the use of cyanide, stating that "there are alternative strategies for the development of the region," the Romanian daily Cotidianul reported.

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